Nigerian JF-17s scrambled to Intercept unidentified drone

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Nigerian Air Force JF-17 Thunder, Reg: NAF720 - Photo by Zohaib Malik

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today scrambled JF-17 fighters to intercept an unidentified drone in its airspace. This is the second such incident in a week. The drone headed north of its position out of Nigerian airspace the moment the JF-17 got airborne, Defense Nigeria tweeted on January 20.

Nigerian Air Force JF-17 Thunder Block 2, Reg: NAF722 – Photo by SalmanFalconsPK

Nigeria has made it clear that the JF-17 Thunder it bought from Pakistan will be its front-line multirole fighter. It placed an order for three JF-17s in 2016 that were inducted in May 2021 on the occasion of the 57th anniversary of the founding of its Air Force. It is 4.5 generation fighter jet equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground fighting capability. It has eight under-wing hardpoints to accommodate a variety of bombs and missiles.

Nigerian Air Force JF-17 Thunder Block 2, Reg: NAF722 – Photo by Zohaib Malik

An NAF pilot had said back then that the Nigerian JF-17 is equipped with an Aselpod targeting pod system that can identify targets with pin-point accuracy and inform which ones among them are active. Pakistan had acquired the Aselpad from Turkey’s Aselsan for the use of its own Air Force. This is the first time it has come to light that the Aselpod is a part of the package sold to Nigeria.

Earlier, the NAF had said that the JF-17 Thunder multi-role aircraft will “add impetus to the ongoing fight against insurgency, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the country.” Nigeria may have been immediately put into service to conduct air strikes against the Boko Haram rebels that are running riot in certain parts of the county.