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Photo: Marie Nwanyanwu
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Nigerians and Gabonese want to fly on Czech wings

Czech aviation defence companies are registered as solid and relevant partners in a number of sub-Saharan African countries. Czech manufacturers are also among the traditional suppliers in Nigeria. The fact that the Czech Republic still has opportunities to expand the range of products offered in this sector and to reach out to new interested African states was demonstrated at the Future Air Force 2023 Conference. From 12 to 18 September 2023, delegations of the Chiefs of the Air Staffs of Nigeria and Gabon attended the first edition of this Conference as part of the Project in Support of Economic Diplomacy (PROPED) in order to learn about the further potential of the Czech air defence industry. During their visit to the Czech Republic they also benefited from the opportunity to participate in the NATO Days in Ostrava. The Nigerian and Gabonese delegations took the opportunity to visit leading Czech representatives of the sector during their working visit and expressed their interest in deepening the existing cooperation. The talks opened up new opportunities in this sector.

The main items in demand are equipment and technologies for state border surveillance, civil and military aircraft including maintenance services, personal armament and equipment, air force training, drones and related technologies, etc. In all of these fields, Czech producers definitely have something to offer.

The first edition of the Future Air Force 2023 Conference builds on the successful L-39 user conferences. The event, which attracted 26 delegations from all over the world, including seven from Africa, was under the auspices of the Chief of Air Staff of the Czech Republic, Major General Petr Čepelka. The invitation was accepted by the Chief of Air Staff of Nigeria, Air Marshal Hasan Bala Abubakar with his delegation and the Deputy Chief of Air Staff of Gabon, Colonel Alexis Nguema. The Nigerian Chief of Air Staff visited the Czech Republic for the first time since 2004 with an interest in personal meetings with strategic partners such as Aero Vodochody and others.

During the conference, the delegates had the opportunity to observe new trends and innovations in the field of defence aviation, including the Czech L-39NG aircraft and the possibilities of its acquisition for possible use by their countries' air forces. However, the conference also served to share experiences with colleagues from other countries across continents. In order to be acquainted with the practical operation of the aircraft, the delegates also visited the Flight Training Centre in Pardubice (LOM Praha), where they watched a practical demonstration of an L-39NG flight and learned about the training opportunities for both pilots and technical staff provided by this Centre.

At the airport in Mošnov (near the city of Ostrava), the participants took part in the NATO Days, a show of military and security equipment. In addition to the classic dynamic demonstrations of military and security equipment, they had the opportunity to visit the stands of major companies of the Czech defence industry, whose products were of interest to African countries, such as Era, Česká zbrojovka, SVOS, Omnipol, Tatra and others. During their stay in Mošnov, the delegates also visited the Helicopter Training Point, where they received information about the possibilities of training on helicopter simulators and had the opportunity to try out a simulated helicopter flight.

The participation and positive feedback from the Nigerian and Gabonese delegations only confirmed the importance of inviting foreign delegations to events of this type. In the case of both delegations, their participation led to the opening of new negotiations on specific demands. The opportunity to see the quality and level of Czech production with their own eyes and to exchange experiences on its use with other delegates is a great asset for building good relations with these promising countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Author : Marie Nwanyanwu, Economic Diplomat, Embassy of the Czech Republic in Nigeria


Future Air Force 2023 and NATO Days