Armed With its Arsenal. How Dangerous is the F-7Ni Fighter?

The Chengdu F-7Ni fighter forms the backbone of the Nigerian Air Force. It’s the nation’s premier Air Defence weapon. The F-7Ni fighter has a Max Speed of Mach 2.0 and a combat radius of 850 km. It’s one of the fastest aircraft in the world, faster than the F-16.

On 22 November Nigerian troops, despite being outnumbered and outgunned held their ground against hundreds of Boko Haram insurgents that attacked their base for a good 45 minutes. If the beseiged troops called for air support the F-7Ni will be the first responder. On full afterburners the F-7Ni fighters taking off from Bases in Maiduguri or Yola will cover the distance to Borno in 2 minutes 45 seconds.

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The problem is this jets can’t fly at night or even when it rains. They lack effective radars, missiles and inflight refueling. Just about everything a modern air force needs. Some experts say if these planes could find a target they still will have great difficulty hitting it. Well i guess it’s better than nothing.

Let’s analyse this aircraft and see if it meets Nigeria’s mission requirements.

ARMAMENT

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A Sri-lankan Airforce F-7 fighter and its panoply of weapons on display. Weapons on display are PL-5 AAM and 1500Ib bombs.
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A Nigerian Air Force F-7Ni fighter with its panoply of weapons on display. Weapons on display are PL-9C AAM, unguided rockets, 250kg (blue) and 500kg (green) bombs.

The Nigerian Air Force bought 20 live PL-9C air to air missiles and an undisclosed number of 250/500 kg bombs for $32 million.

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Chinese PL-9C air to air missile.

The PL-9C AAM is a short-range, infrared-homing air-to-air missile (AAM) developed the Chinese company, Dong Bingyin. The missile has a maximum effective range of 35 km and an altitude limit of 6.5 km and a speed of Mach 2+.The single-shot hit probability for a single missile launch at an approaching target is 90%.

The PL-9 is conceptually closest to the American AIM-9P and appears to be an evolution of the PL-5 series missile, although Chinese sources claim the missile outperforms the AIM-9L/M.

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A female technician from the ordnance unit working on a PL-9C air to air missile. The PL-9C has a blast fragmentation warhead as well as a laser proximity fuse.
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Tail section of the PL-9C Air to Air Missile.
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Detail of RF proximity fuse antennas on PL-9C air to air missile.

The PL-9C has a blast fragmentation warhead as well as a laser proximity fuse.

250kg and 500kg General Purpose Bomb

These bombs are used to produce personnel casualties, and for area denial and enemy harassment. These bombs have nose fuzes, except the spherical bombs, which are not fuzed. Some fuzes are armed by vane rotation and others when a pin is pulled. Some use a mechanical timer or a powder-train time delay to produce an airburst; others fire on impact.

Bombs without fuzes are designed to rupture on impact, scattering their filler.

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Ordnance crew load 250kg bomb under wing of F-7Ni fighter.
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Ordnance crew load 250kg bomb under wing of F-7Ni fighter.
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Ordnance crew wheeling a 500kg bomb for installation on an F-7Ni fighter.
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Ordnance crew wheeling a 500kg bomb for installation on an F-7Ni fighter.

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Ordnance crew load 250kg bomb under wing of F-7Ni fighter.

These unguided bombs carries one hell of a punch. You most definitely don’t wanna be within 500 metres when this bomb detonates. The fragmentation effects generated from the detonation of 500kg bomb have greater effective range than blast, usually up to approximately 3,000 feet regardless of bomb size.

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Fragmentation is caused by the break-up of the weapon casing upon detonation. Fragments of this bomb case can achieve velocities from 3,000 to 11,000 fps. Fragmentation has been effective against Boko Haram insurgents and their Toyota Pickup trucks.

RELIABILITY 

APRIL 3, 2018. Taungoo City, Myammar.

WARNING : GRAPHIC IMAGES

A pilot was killed when an F-7 crashed during training. The cause of the crash was based on technical glitches while conducting a training exercise. It crashed 5 kilometres West of its airbase. The pilot died due to serious injuries sustained after ejecting from the cockpit.

OCTOBER 16, 2018. Central Myanmar.

FINAL WARNING (GRAPHIC IMAGES)

Two Myanmar F-7 fighter jet crashes,  (AGAIN !!!!!) killing both pilots and a young bystander. The planes struck a broadcast tower.  One plummeted into a rice field while the other nosedive near a famous bhudist temple.

Both jets broke into pieces upon hitting the ground. An 11 year old girl was killed when debris from one of the jets struck her as she was studying outside at a private school.

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Despite the ejecting from the stricken fighter the pilot did not survive.
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Despite the ejecting from the stricken fighter the pilot did not survive.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018

Two Nigerian Air Force F-7Ni fighters crashed during a mid-air collision during a rehearsal ahead of Nigeria’s independence anniversary on Katampe Hills, on the outskirts of Abuja. The pilot survived the crash by ejecting. He later succumbed to his injuries, internal injury it would seem.

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A picture shows the wreckage of one of the two Nigerian Air Force fighter jets that crashed during a rehearsals ahead of the nation’s independence anniversary on Katampe Hills, on the outskirts of Abuja, on September 28, 2018. (Photo by Eric ISAAC / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ISAAC/AFP/Getty Images)
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A picture shows the wreckage of one of the two Nigerian Air Force fighter jets that crashed during a rehearsals ahead of the nation’s independence anniversary on Katampe Hills, on the outskirts of Abuja, on September 28, 2018. (Photo by Eric ISAAC / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ISAAC/AFP/Getty Images)
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A picture shows the wreckage of one of the two Nigerian Air Force fighter jets that crashed during a rehearsals ahead of the nation’s independence anniversary on Katampe Hills, on the outskirts of Abuja, on September 28, 2018. (Photo by Eric ISAAC / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ISAAC/AFP/Getty Images)

Why Did Nigeria Stop Putting a Premium on Air Power.

In the 1980s Nigeria was an aviation juggernaut. Not only did it have one of the largest fleet of combat aircraft in Africa, it was also had a burgeoning and promising civil and military aircraft manufacturing program. Nigeria was churning out 60 Air Beetles trainer aircraft every year.

By the early 90s the Nigerian government had turned against the Air Beetle program and stopped funding R&D research. What happened to the Nigerian Air Force and why?

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