The Nigerian Air Force should allocate moor time and resources to defeating Boko Haram and aim to increase readiness and lethality to help the service confront the reemergence of regional competition, than partying and holding sports competition.
Nigerian Air Force Inter Command Sports Competition 2018.
After 10 years of wielding virtually unopposed air power in the northeast, the service should shut its attention to countering threats and aggression from peer and near peer nations with more advanced air combat platforms. The advantage the Nigerian Air Force enjoyed for decades until now are fast eroding with the presence of advanced 4th generation strike aircrafts and attack drones from foreign military bases in the region.
Gone are the days when Nigeria’s military had preordained right to victory in the air or the battlefield. There has been three unauthorized air strikes in Nigerian territory carried out by a foreign Air Force. If the event of an escalation of hostilities Nigeria may find it a lot trickier defending the nations airspace and infrastructure than it had hoped.
To effectively defend Nigeria the Air Force should call for an increase in total combat aircraft inventory from nine interceptor aircraft and 16 light attack aircraft in 2018, to two squadrons ( twenty-four aircrafts) of supersonic multi-role fighter jets. Unlike the situation we have today, having more aircarfts available will allow for attrition and peacetime training exercises rather than holding sports competition.
Team HQ GTC Winner of the Nigerian Air Force Inter-Comnand Combat Sports Competition
According to budget documents released by the Air Force the Air Force is to acquire 12- Super Tucano aircrafts from the United States in 2019. This development while a welcome gesture has little Military significance. It is worth noting that the Super Tucano funding increased from $350 million to $600 million. The Air Force also keeps the JF-17 acquisition steady at just 3, the same as in the previous three years. It also provided funding for 13 Mi-35 Hind helicopter gunships, with three delivered in 2017 and 10 slated for delivery sometime this year.
Sadly there is no acquisition plan for more CH-3 Rainbow armed drones despite its stellar performance against Boko Haram. The Air Force should also be calling for a sizeable increase in its munitions and rebuild its bomb stockpiles that has been depleted after a decade of sustained combat operations.
The pace of current operations is very challenging for the air force of a developing country, and as such the Air Force should seek funding to acquire combat drones to detect, track and defeat enemy forces to fill the capability gap, because unlike an aircraft acquisition process that can run into years, a combat drone can be delivered within weeks of making a request.
If this force structure proposed is supported by the government, Nigeria’s Air power will for the first time have enough assets to carry out COIN operations and still have enough assets to defend the nation’s airspace and critical infrastructure simultaneously without having to pull resources from other theater of operations because of limited assets.
But if the Air Force continue to rely in the venerable Alpha Jet and Chengdu F-7N fighter, both of which are well over half a century old, then God help us.