Nigerian Air Force Unveils Turkish-made T129 ATAK Helicopters

U.S. DoD confirmed the sale 12 Bell AH-1Z Viper Helicopters to Nigeria worth $997M in December 2023
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  • 04:45 PM, January 10, 2024
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Nigerian Air Force Unveils Turkish-made T129 ATAK Helicopters
Nigerian T129 ATAK Helicopter @via X

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has officially unveiled the first images of its recently acquired TAI T129 ATAK helicopters.

The disclosed photographs showcase the NAF 500 at the HQ Tactical Air Command in Makurdi. The initial delivery of two helicopters reportedly took place in November 2023, with their induction into active service currently pending.

Nigeria had initially placed an order for a total of six T129 ATAK helicopters, marking a significant addition to its military capabilities. The T129 ATAK, Turkey's inaugural domestically manufactured attack helicopter, is anticipated to enhance the Nigerian Air Force's operational capabilities.

The T129 ATAK helicopters come equipped with a diverse array of armaments, including 500 rounds of 20-millimeter gun ammunition, 16 Roketsan CİRİT Missiles, 8 L-UMTAS or UMTAS Missiles, 8 Stinger Missiles, or 76 70-millimeter rockets. Powered by two LHTEC-CTS800-4A Turboshaft Engines, each generating 1,373 shp, the T129 ATAK helicopter boasts a maximum speed of 281 km/h, a flight time of 3 hours, a range of 537 kilometers, and an altitude ceiling of 15,000 feet.

Nigerian Air Force Unveils Turkish-made T129 ATAK Helicopters
AH-1Z Vipers @U.S. DoD

In addition to the acquisition of the T129 ATAK helicopters, the Nigerian Air Force is actively engaging with several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to reactivate unserviceable platforms. Ongoing negotiations involve the overhaul and upgrade of 3 L-39ZA aircraft with Aero Vodochody of the Czech Republic, with an option for an additional 3 subsequently. Furthermore, a contract has been awarded to Messrs Pratt & Whitney for the factory repairs of 4 Agusta 109E helicopter engines, enhancing the overall maintenance and readiness of the Nigerian Air Force's fleet.

Nigeria received U.S.’ go-ahead to buy AH-1Z helicopters in December 2023

The sale of the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter to Nigeria was officially confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on December 19, 2023. Nigeria received the go-ahead in April 2022 but the sale was affirmed through the announcement that Northrop Grumman had secured a $7.7 million contract modification for the delivery of an extra 32 H-1 tech refresh mission computers. The completion of the contract is expected by June 2024.

The AH-1Z helicopters will complement the Turkish-built T129 in the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) service. The NAF already operates various helicopters, including 10 AgustaWestland AW109s, 14 Mil Mi-24/35 'Hinds,' and an unknown number of Aerospatiale SA 342 Gazelle helicopters in ground attack and close air support roles. Additionally, the Nigerian Army is set to receive MD Helicopters MD 530F Cayuse Warrior Plus (CWP) light attack helicopters to enhance its aviation capabilities amid the Boko Haram crisis.

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