Why US sold A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes to Nigeria -Envoy

By Sodiq Oyeleke
The United States has said that A-29 Super Tucanos were sold to Nigeria to strengthen the country’s fight against terrorism.

The US’ Chargé d’Affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon said this during the inspection of the newly arrived first six American Sierra Nevada Corporation/Embraer Defense and Security A-29 “Super Tucano” Light Attack aircraft on Tuesday.

A statement by United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria quoted FitzGibbon as saying that the aircraft represented a historic level of cooperation achieved between the U.S. and Nigerian militaries.

“Beyond the new hardware that you see on this runway, this program has brought our two militaries closer in formal training, professional development, air base construction, logistics planning, and negotiations. We are proud to partner with Nigeria in its ‘whole of government’ approach to end violent extremism and ensure a more stable, prosperous country for all Nigerians,” FitzGibbon added.

Also, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard welcomed the pilots and aircraft to Massachusetts on the first leg of their trans-Atlantic flight.

The statement added, “The Super Tucano is a dual-pilot turboprop aircraft built as a workhorse combat air platform, equipped for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and for precision air-to-ground strike missions. The next six aircraft are scheduled for delivery later this year.

“The Super Tucano platform for Nigeria is the United States’ largest Foreign Military Sales program in Sub-Saharan Africa, valued at almost $500 million. This program 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’s infrastructure.

“Through this program, the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, trained Nigerian pilots and maintenance crews to U.S. standards. Training also emphasizes the Law of Armed Conflict and Civilian Casualty Mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training.

“With the A-29 Super Tucano purchase, the Nigerian Air Force also has become a founding member of the U.S. Air Force’s “Combined Light Attack Experiment,” which is developing Light Attack global best-practice tactics and doctrine for the 21st century.”

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had placed an order for 12 Super Tucano fighter jets after extensive discussions with the US government.

The Nigerian Air Force last Thursday took delivery of the first batch of six jets from the US.

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