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Security Challenges: Air Force Converts Trainer Aircraft to combat fighter jets.

In its continued bid to sustain air power supremacy over mounting security challenges in the country especially terrorism, militancy, herdsmen/rustling and banditry, the Nigerian Airforce has made another breakthrough by adapting the L-39 ZA trainer aircraft to a fighter aircraft for combat roles.

Before the feat was achieved, the L-39ZA albatross aircraft which is an update version of the L-29ZA was for years, the training aircraft for fighter pilots in the Nigerian Airforce to fly either the Alpha Jets or the now rested MIGs, Mikoyan Guverish fighter jets.

It has now been fitted with long distance rockets and canon launching and firing capabilities.

A statement by Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, Director, Airforce Public Relations, noted that, “The decision to adapt the trainer was informed by the need to commit more platforms to the various Internal Security Operations in which the NAF is currently engaged.

He said, “Hitherto, the NAF had employed the L-39ZA aircraft solely for basic flying training though the aircraft is capable of undertaking light ground attack.

“However, this combat capability of the aircraft was never exploited before now because of the role to which it was employed.

“Preparatory to the new role, the NAF on Monday successfully test fired the weaponized aircraft fitted with rockets and canons.

“The firing display, was conducted at NAF Air Range in Kwenev, Makurdi, and Benue State.

“This feat marks another milestone in the drive by the current leadership of the NAF to achieve self-reliance through research and development.

“Recall that the L-39ZA aircraft was inducted into NAF inventory as a basic trainer in November 1986.

“While retaining this role, it has now been adapted to undertake light ground attack”, he said.

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