The Nigerian Army (NA) is in need of light utility and combat helicopter to equip it’s infantry has met with it’s French counterpart for support.
The Nigerian Army hopes to learn from the French Army light aviation French Army Light Aviation (French: Aviation légère de l’armée de Terre, ALAT).
In June, a Nigerian delegate met with the Division General Bertrand Vallette d’Osia, the commander of France’ light aviation and other French defence companies including Airbus Helicopters, Safran Helicopters, and Thales Defence.
In a tweet on 13 June, Bertrand Vallette noted that he was very satisfied with his interaction with the Nigerian delegation concerning “the creation of a light aviation of @armeedeterre in Nigeria.” He added that “The sharing of our common subjects was particularly fruitful.”
The Army aviation service of the French Army (ALAT) was established on 22 November 1954 for observation, reconnaissance, assault and supply duties; following its experience in French-Indochina with helicopters, principally in the combat medical evacuation role.
ALAT operates a mix of both armed and unarmed helicopters numbering up to 339. This is similar to what the Nigerian Army seeks to establish.
In 2005, ALAT received its first Eurocopter EC665 Tiger, it also flies cannon and Mistral-armed SA341 Gazelles, Pumas, and Eurocopter Cougar.
Nigerian Army Aviation Corps
The Nigerian Army blamed the lack of timely air support as the reason for the prolonged battle with the Boko Haram insurgents.
In 2020, the Nigerian Army signaled its intentions to acquire combat helicopters to support and provide rapidly deployable firepower to its field-deployed troops in the northeastern area.
Nigeria is currently conducting negotiations with the European manufacturer Airbus, India’s HAL, and Turkish TAI.
India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) signed a contract with the Nigerian Army to train six officers for basic helicopter flying training phase-I at the Rotary Wing Academy (RWA), Bengaluru.
In 2021 the Adjutant General of California National Guard, Maj.-Gen. David Baldwin, pledged to support the Nigerian Army to actualise the establishment of its aviation unit.
Baldwin made the pledge when he led his team on courtesy visit to Army Headquarters on Tuesday in Abuja.
Earlier this year, the Nigerian Army signed a contract with HAL which covers Phase-II flying training on Chetak Helicopter for six officers of the newly formed Nigerian Army Aviation.