Monday, September 11, 2023

India’s LCA Tejas, ALH Dhruv & LCH Prachand Draw Nigeria’s Interest; HAL Provides 1st Demonstration

Nigeria has shown interest in the Indian-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) ‘Prachand,’ Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) ‘Dhruv.’

A few days ago, Africa’s most populous country approved inking of defense deals worth US $1 billion, aimed at helping Nigeria become self-reliant in defense manufacturing.

A HAL official confirmed to the EurAsian Times that a Nigerian delegation had seen the demonstration of the aircraft. The Nigerians are, however, yet to fly them. The negotiations for these military purchases are still in preliminary stages.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which manufactures these military aircraft, has trained six pilots of Nigerian Army Aviation on Chetak Helicopters. Phase I of the training was completed in December 2021 and the second phase was completed by December 2022. Each Nigerian Army Aviation officer was given 70 hours of flying training as part of the training.

India has been offering LCA, ALH, and LUH to Nigeria, saying the platform will augment the strength of the Nigerian forces. Defense Advisor to Nigerian High Commission in India Commodore Anthony Victor Kujoh noted in 2022: “Nigeria would not only like to further enhance the business relationship with HAL for training, but also towards asset acquisition.”

In 2020, the Nigerian Army and Air Force indicated an interest in acquiring combat helicopters. The Army is keen on attack helicopters to give air support to its field-deployed troops in the northeastern region.

The helicopters will be required to conduct ground attacks and fend off air attacks from small drones. They would also be conducting armed escort and tank plinking.

The Indian Air Force Tejas performs at the opening ceremony of the Singapore Air Show on February 15, 2022.

The Nigerian Army blamed the lack of airpower for the prolonged battle with the Boko Haram insurgents. The service also contended that it needed its own “air force to deal with the insurgents swiftly.”

Besides HAL, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Turkish TAI have pitched their helicopters to Nigeria.

12/09/2023 Ritu Sharma/EurAsianTimes

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