Nigerian Air Force : Becoming a Source of National Embarrassment.

Nigeria’s pathetic excuse for an Air Force is on the verge of extinction. It uses 1960 era ex Soviet fighter jets and trainer aircrafts despite being in a perperual state of military engagement for seventeen years. This is an embarassment, a disgrace unbefiting of a country like Nigeria.

Meanwhile, other smaller comparative air forces with limited resources are modernising at a rapid pace. The reliance obsolete aircrafts leaves Nigeria vulnerable, unable to defend Nigeria’s airspace and critical infrastructure.

Old Glory

In 1983 when Chadian troops invaded several Nigerian administered Islands in the Lake Chad Basin, it was the dreaded MiG-21 that stole the show, with a Squadron of the venerable Jaguar fighter jet idle. The MiG-21 with its speed, superb flying manoeuvres with very good air to air and air to ground missiles pummeled the invading forces.

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A Jaguar BN of the Nigerian Air Force taxying to the active runway at RAF Lossiemouth in September 1984.


The situation today is different. The Nigerian air force is in a very bad shape, with the number of its flyable, operational warplanes now at one of its lowest level ever. Caught unprepared and embarassed by Boko Haram, Nigeria is now forced to weaponize its fleet of Aero L-39 trainers for operations in Nigeria’s northeast in a ground attack role.

The Appropriation Act for 2015 released $36 million for three JF-17 multi-role combat aircraft. Three years down the line negotiations are still ongoing.

Giving its fiscal resources and the number of aircrafts it has, Nigeria should have enough fighters to meet the mandate without resorting to converting its trainer aircrafts right?


We have to note that Nigeria uses three numbers to count its fighters. There is the total number of aircraft, the number of available aircraft and the number of deployable aircraft. There’s a difference between all three.

In other words, Nigeria has jets  it could fly and jets it can fly. Keeping track of each is standard practice for every air force.

Take the Chengdu F-7Ni fighter. The single engine Nose-intake fighter is  (im ashamed to say) is Nigeria’s most modern warplane, of which nine are in active service but only six deployable.

In total, Nigeria had 15 F-7N interceptors, lost two to crashes, has nine available and six deployable in 2016. That means less than half of Nigeria’s fighter fleet is reliable in a war.

Enter the Alpha Jet. On paper Nigeria has 12 Alpha Jets. But even as dissapointing as it is, these numbers might be misleading. Nigeria’s Air Brass does not “distinguish between ‘full’ or ‘conditional’ operational capability,”

When only counting the fully operational Alpha jets, the number of deployable fell to eight, So that’s 14 deployable strike aircrafts to defend 932,768 km of Nigerian territory. This is akin to playing a football match with six players.

The Nigerian Air Force is also caught in a time warp. As concepts of warfare changed, unmanned aerial weapons platforms took to the skies.

To end on a bright note, the performance of unmanned combat aerial vehicles has proved so successful that the air forces are looking at drone warfare seriously.

Nigerian Air Force F-7N, L-39,Alpha jet





Mali Air Force A-29 Super Tucano


Niger Republic Air Force SU-25 Frogfoot




South African Air Force Cheetah C, Gripen Multirole Fighters, Mirage F-1



Gripen NG Demonstrator takes off from Farnborough, UK.




Egyptian Air Force : MiG-29, Rafal, F-16



Saudi & Egyptian Air Forces conduct final phase of exercise Faisal11 1



Chadian Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum, SU-22 Flanker



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Ugandan Air Force SU-30 Flanker



Kenyan Air Force F-5 Tiger





Equatorial Guinea SU-25, L-39.


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Ethiopian Air Force SU-27,SU-25.





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7 Replies to “Nigerian Air Force : Becoming a Source of National Embarrassment.”

  1. This is because Nigeria is cursed iterms of leadership in every area of governance even in the army, Air Force and navy. They just thinks how to steal money, that’s all that is in the minds of Nigerian leaders in government and military, how to become rich and move into politics may be I all become the president one day. Nigeria does not have visionary and compitative military leadership that can look around and enguge in aggressive competition with other military powers in interms of armed race. There is an aggressive armed race going on around the world, every country want to armed itself with air power, effective ground army and navy. Every country want to be battling ready at any time but surprisingly that is not the case with Nigerian. Do you know Turkey want to set a military base in Africa, Nigeria should have set a Nigerian military base in Liberia and seralone if Nigerian military and leadership were visionary leaders. Nigeria is a very weak country because of the inability of the Nigerian leaders to see Nigerian interests and military interested around Africa. Boko Haram just exposed the rottenness in the 3 arms of the Nigeria military. The Nigerian army is trying to be modernized but in the Incase of the Nigeria Air Force, I firmly believe the Air Force will continue with these old light attacks out of fashion Alpha jets, f-7, L-39 until the day a small country with attack or invade Nigeria with 4 generation warplanes, that is when foolish Nigeria leaders will start thinking how to modinized it air force which currently is a serious disgrace to the nation. Small countries like Chad, Uganda, Angola, are modinizing their Air Force. A small country like Angola and Uganda already have advanced fourth generation fighter that can compete with the France top fighter. France cannot mess with their air space Angola and Uganda have su-30s. Nigeria military, and the federal government are still sleeping, not that they don’t know about the armed race going on around the world, yes, they do, the said advance fighter are expensive, because their hearts are on money not on the security of Nigerian and Nigeria at large. What nonsense! Millions of dollars or the the security of Nigerian and Nigeria at large your country. A country like Algeria will not hold back millions of dollars for the security of her people and country. Because their leaders place their country first before their personal interest but in Nigeria, both the military and political leaders put their personal interests first before their country. That is why the Nigeria Air Force lack common fourth generation fighting. Even if the want to fourth generation fighters the will look for cheaper ones like the jf-17. Egypt rejected the Jf-17 because it classified herself among the leading nations of the world. This is because their leaders are patriotic to their nation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. -Niger have su-25s
    -Chad have mig-29s
    -Uganda have su-30s
    -Angola have su-30s
    -Sudan have mig-29s
    The fighters of these small countries are far powerful than all of Nigeria Air Force fighter jets. Why Nigeria Air Force leaders? Where is Nigerian? Why is Nigeria been disgrace like this among the nations of the world, We have lost our respect in Africa interms of military power, what a shame. Strong military means strong and great nation. The giant of Africa Nigeria called herself is just a slogan.


    1. I feel your pain men. Its an embarrassment, and a painful one at that. Africa’s biggest economy, 40 billion barrels in proven oil reserve (worth an estimated $3 trillion) with the 4th largest defence budget in Africa yet we cannot invest in our own security. What an embarrassment.


  3. Couple that with the refusal to invest in anti-aircraft defended and you have a recipe for disaster. In theory an American Reaper Drone from its base in Garoua, Cameroon can take out Nigeria’s entire leadership in one swoop and we still won’t know where the attack came from.


  4. What a shame !
    The question is, if corruption was the reason why our armed forces were starved of funds during GEJ’s regime, what is the excuse of the so called incorruptible PMB ?


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