The first batch of Chinese made F-7 fighters purchased by the Nigeria Airforce is due to arrive the country early next year, Daily Trust learnt in Abuja yesterday.
A source in the Nigeria Airforce (NAF), who spoke exclusively to Daily Trust, said that already, the Airforce and the manufacturers of the fighter aircraft in China are fine tuning the process of acquisition of the F-7s. Daily Trust also learnt that some Nigeria Airforce pilots will soon be sent to China for training on the F-7 fighter plane.
The source did not reveal the number of fighter planes expected, as he said the Russian made Mig 21 jets which have been used by the NAF for decades are now being completely phased out, hence the need for the Chinese made jets.
"We are expecting the first batch of F-7 fighter planes from China in the early quarters of 2009. We can not say how many they are going to be, but we expect them to be about ten in number," the source revealed.
Similarly, the NAF is expected to receive one of its transporter planes (G-222) which is being refurbished in Italy, as pilots and crewmen of the plane are presently standing by to take its delivery from the Italian contractors.
"The refurbishment of the G-222 is simultaneously going on in Italy and some at our hangar in Lagos State are expected to be completed in this first phase," he said.
Earlier, one of the transporter planes in the fleet of the NAF, which was refurbished in Bordeaux, France, was received by the Minister of Defence in Abuja last year.
Information gathered by Daily Trust, also revealed that the NAF is soon to inaugurate its Institute of Technology in Kaduna State.
"The Airforce Institute of Technology (AFIT) will be a place for our manpower development and it is metamorphosing from a solely national to an international institute of technology where manpower development in the Airforce will be the bedrock," he added.
However the Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI) NAF, Group Captain M.G Abdul-Wahab could not be reached for comment.