The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has officially inducted six A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets to combat insecurity in the country.
Officials from the United States department of defence were present at the induction ceremony that held on Tuesday.The ceremony was hosted by Bashir Magashi, minister of defence.Speaking at the event, Jeff Harrigian, US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, said Nigeria is a key partner in strengthening stability in the West African region.
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The Nigerian Air Force is one of our key partners that plays a critical role in furthering regional security and stability,” Harrigian said.“This ceremony symbolises the strength of our unique partnership and underscores the value of training and working together. 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.”
On her part, Mary Beth Leonard, US ambassador to Nigeria, said the aircraft will enhance NAF’s capabilities, as well as increase training and integration opportunities between Nigerian and US troops.Nigeria is said to have purchased the A-29s at a total value of $500 million through the foreign military sales (FMS) programme.The total value of the purchase is said to make it the largest FMS programme in sub-Saharan Africa.As part of the deal, the US will provide $36.1 million in infrastructure as support to the A-29s’ home base in Kainji, Niger state.
A total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force were trained on handling the aircraft.Nigeria is expected to receive 14 more fighter aircraft before the end of 2021.Speaking at an event held at the NAF base, Kaduna, in June, Oladayo Amao, chief of air staff, had said six more A-29 Super Tucano aircraft will arrive in September, while two CH-3 and four CH-4 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) will arrive the country before the end of 2021.
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