The United States Tuesday said Nigeria procured 12 new A-29 Super Tucano jets at a sum of $500 million.
The procurement, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, is the largest single arms purchase in sub-Saharan Africa.
Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander disclosed this on Tuesday at the A-29 Super Tucano induction ceremony, hosted by Nigerian Minister of Defense Bashir Salihi Magashi and the Nigerian Air Force in Abuja.
“The Nigerian Air Force is one of our key partners that play a critical role in furthering regional security and stability,” Gen. Harrigian was quoted as saying in a statement by the US Embassy in Abuja.
“This ceremony symbolizes the strength of our unique partnership and underscores the value of training and working together,” he said.
The Super Tucanos were the impetus for the significant deepening of training and professional relationships, he added.
The statement said, “Precision targeting, air-to-ground integration, and human rights training are all included in the partnership between the U.S. and Nigeria.
“The aircraft will assist the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against violent extremist organizations including the Islamic State West Africa Province.
“The joint structure of air-to-ground integration also supports Nigerian Army and Navy operations.
“Nigeria purchased the A-29s through the Foreign Military Sales programme, which follows the Department of Defense’s “Total Package Approach” model and includes spare parts for several years of operation, contract logistics support, munitions, and a multi-year construction project to improve Kainji Air Base infrastructure.
“The total sale is valued at almost $500 million, making it the largest FMS program in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Harrigian said the A-29 is a prime tool to help Nigeria combat violent extremism and is vital to sustained deterrence.
“The total package deal—aircrew and maintainer training, precision-guided weapon delivery, and more—highlights our enduring partnership with the Nigerian Air Force and our commitment to enabling their successes where we can.”
A total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force were trained to U.S. standards with the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA.
The training also emphasized the Law of Armed Conflict and civilian casualty mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training.
As part of the programme, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing $36.1M in infrastructure support to the A-29s’ home base, Kainji Air Base, including covered magazines and aircraft sunshades, a new airfield hot cargo pad, perimeter and security fencing, airfield lights, and various airfield apron, parking, hangar, and entry control point enhancements.
The infrastructure package also includes a flight annex wing building for simulator training as well as munitions assembly and storage and small arms storage.