Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has inducted the much-awaited A-29 Super Tucano into its inventory.
Though the ceremony was not open to media coverage, the United States (US) Africa Command, in a statement said the Super Tucano induction is the latest of multiple significant engagements between U.S. Africa Command, its components, and Nigerian counterparts.
The commander, U.S Air Forces Europe-Africa, Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said the Super Tucanos were the impetus for significant deepening of training and professional relationships.
He said, “The Nigerian Air Force is one of our key partners that plays a critical role in furthering regional security and stability
“This ceremony symbolises the strength of our unique partnership and underscores the value of training and working together.”
He said precision targeting, air-to-ground integration, and human rights training are all included in the partnership between the U.S. and Nigeria.
Harrigian stated that the aircraft will assist the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against violent extremist organisations including the Islamic State West Africa Province.
He said the joint structure of air-to-ground integration also supports Nigerian Army and Navy operations.
Harrigian and US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard speaking on the capabilities of the aircraft said the A-29 can perform intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and precision air-to-ground strikes, strengthening Nigeria’s ability to fight terrorism.
He said 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.
He said the training also emphasised the Law of Armed Conflict and civilian casualty mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training.
He disclosed that 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 a 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.
President Buhari To Commission 6 A-29 Super Tucano Aircraft August 31(Opens in a new browser tab)