…as America promises to expose sponsors of terrorism
In its renewed fight against insurgency, the federal government has spent the sum of $500million (about N206bn) to buy 12 new A-29 Super Tucano jets, the United States authorities have disclosed.
The US Department of Defence, which reportedly facilitated the sale and is now in concert with Nigeria towards waging strong war against terrorism, has described this procurement as the largest single arms purchase in sub-Sahara Africa.
U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa Commander, Gen Jeff Harrigian, disclosed this on Tuesday during the induction ceremony for A-29 Super Tucano hosted by the Minister of Defence General Bashir Magashi (rtd) and the Nigerian Air Force in Abuja.
US Embassy in a statement in Abuja quoted Harrigian as saying, “The Nigerian Air Force is one of our key partners that play 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 added that the Super Tucanos were the impetus for the significant deepening of training and professional relationships.
The statement further 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.”
According to Harrigian, the A-29 is a prime tool to help Nigeria combat violent extremism, adding that it’s 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,” he said.
Sixty-four pilots and engineers drawn 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 emphasised 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.
Meanwhile, the security challenges in Nigeria have also propelled the United States of America to assist the country in identifying the sponsors of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in Nigeria.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, expressed this willingness during a meeting with journalists in Abuja, on Monday.
Leonard who was questioned on the steps the US would take to assist Nigeria in identifying the sponsors of terrorism said, “That is something we are very eager to partner Nigeria on.
“I have had at least three conversations in the last two months on this subject.
“I won’t like to go into details.”
The Ambassador who also spoke on a report that the US would abandon Nigeria the same way it did in the case of Afghanistan, noted that Nigeria and the US have a bilateral relationship unlike that of Afghanistan.
Leonard added, “I hear people making the analogy with Afghanistan a lot, it does not match up.”
“When you listen to what President Biden said on how troops went to Afghanistan in the first place, it was because they were in a horrible tragedy, over 3,000 Americans were killed.
“That is a different construct. The sovereign nations have had strong bilateral relations. I don’t think the two match up.”