WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Nigeria plans to acquire three JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter aircraft in 2016, becoming the first export operator for the planes.
The procurement plans, which set aside $25 million for the fighters, were reported by Nigerian newspaper Punch. The Nigerian government also plans to acquire ten PAC Super Mushshak basic trainers and two Mi-35M helicopters.
Punch obtained the information on the government's procurement plans from a leaked copy of their 2016 budget, which was presented to the National Assembly by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2015.
Nigerian defense officials have been reportedly interested in the JF-17 following the IDEAS 2014 exhibition in Pakistan. DefenceWeb reports that during the exhibition a Pakistani defense official stated Nigeria was close to signing a contract for the jets to modernize its air force.
The JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter jet is a lightweight, single-engine aircraft developed in a joint-venture between the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China's state-owned Chengdu Aircraft Corporation.
The jet is armed with a 23mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon, and can be equipped with both air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. The jet is in service only in Pakistan.