The term “military” within the Nigerian context tends to be a misnomer for the Army, with the Navy and Air Force often at the scholarship margins. This article presents a corrective: it shifts the emphasis from the Nigerian Army within the historical discourse on politics and its impact on the military in Nigeria. The paper instead examines the Cold War political origins of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) as an under-researched service branch of the Nigerian military. In 1962, after two years of political negotiations, Nigeria’s politicians shunned British overtures and opted for West German assistance in establishing an air force. In examining the Cold War political environment, including the actors and decision-making in the two years leading to that outcome, the article employs interview data and historical sources from the National Defence College Abuja and the UK National Archives, including communiqués, letters and other forms of official corpus.