The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has received at least one of the two Beechcraft King Air 360ER aircraft (Registration: NAF 205). This delivery marks a step forward in the NAF’s efforts to enhance its Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
The Beechcraft King Air 360ER is poised to play a pivotal role in supporting national security through its specialized mission capabilities.
The Beechcraft King Air 360ER, selected by the NAF for its ISR requirements, will undergo conversion into special mission aircraft dedicated to Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance operations. This strategic decision aligns with the NAF’s commitment to bolstering air power, projection capabilities, and air combat training. The selection of Beechcraft King Air 360I and Da-62 underscores the air force’s focus on deploying advanced technology for optimal operational efficiency.
The acquisition of two Beechcraft King Air 360I aircraft comes as part of an effort to address attrition, replacing two Beechcraft King Air B350s that met unfortunate incidents last year. One aircraft (NAF 201) crashed on Sunday 21 February, 2021 while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International, Abuja from Minna Airport after reporting engine failure. A second crashed on Friday 22 May, 2021 on during an official visit to the northern state of Kaduna, killing Nigeria’s army chief, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru.
The value of the deal for the two Beechcraft is reported at N10,860,000,000 ($24,794,520.30), encompassing spares and ground support equipment. Although the completion timeframe is undisclosed, the Beechcraft King Air 360I, along with the Diamond Da-62 ISR and other platforms, is set to support national forces’ missions in the West African region.
Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft King Air 360I, a variant of the well-known King Air 350i, stands out as an ideal platform for ISR and intelligence operations. The aircraft can be equipped with a range of payloads, including moving target indicators, synthetic aperture radar, EO/IR (FLIR), streaming video datalink, self-protection systems, and advanced communication systems. The mission equipment for the Nigerian version is expected to include a belly-mounted Selex Seaspray 7500E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and an L3 WESCAM AN/AAQ-35 EO/IR turret known as the MX-15HDi.
The addition of the Beechcraft King Air 360I complements the existing ISR fleet of the Nigerian Air Force. This includes two ATR 42 maritime patrol aircraft, one Diamond DA42, two Cessna Citation CJ3 and two Super King Air. Together, these assets contribute to a robust aerial surveillance and maritime patrol capability, allowing the NAF to maintain persistent deployment of ISR assets at the forward edge of the battlespace.
The persistent deployment strategy enables the NAF to keep multiple ISR platforms engaged for extended periods, resulting in reduced engagement time from target detection to engagement. This approach enhances the effectiveness of surveillance and reconnaissance operations, providing a quicker response to potential threats.
The acquisition and delivery of the Beechcraft King Air 360ER signify a strategic move by the Nigerian Air Force to elevate its ISR capabilities. As the air force continues to modernize its fleet and integrate advanced technology, the Beechcraft King Air 360I will play a pivotal role in supporting national security objectives and contributing to regional stability.
The NAF has been actively involved in counterinsurgency operations against Boko Haram terrorists in the northeast region of the country. The Beechcraft King Air 360ER, and Diamond DA62 MPP’s ISR capabilities will undoubtedly prove valuable in supporting these operations, providing real-time intelligence data to ground troops and helping to locate and neutralize terrorist hideouts.