The Nigerian Air Force will take delivery of five AW109 helicopters from Italy’s Leonardo and a single Mi-35M gunship from Russian Helicopters in March 2019.
This was revealed by Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who made the comments during a visit to the 23rd Quick Response Wing at Gembu, Taraba State, in January 2019.
He said construction of a helipad would begin so that some of the new helicopters could be deployed there; a full air base is planned for Gembu.
The Nigerian government has already budgeted $19 million for two AW109s, which will join the AW109 LUHs with the Nigerian Air Force and the A109Es with the Nigerian Navy. Abubakar previously said the AW109s will be Power models.
These will likely be armed with machine gun pods and 70mm rocket launchers and, along with the Mi-35Ms, will be used to combat terrorism and insecurity. Nigeria has already received four of the 12 Mi-35Ms it ordered in September 2015.
They have been contributing significantly to the counterinsurgency and other internal security operations in the country, but one was lost on January 2, 2019, whilst engaging Boko Haram terrorists in northern Borno State. All five on board were killed.