The United States Army Corps of Engineers has provided $36.1 million in infrastructure support to Nigeria’s A-29 Super Tucano Kainji Air base.
A statement released by the US Embassy on Tuesday said the support was announced during an official induction ceremony of the A-29 Super Tucano into the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).The support includes 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.
Other package includes a flight annex wing building for simulator training as well as munitions assembly and storage and small arms storage. The U.S. also stationed a project engineer at Kainji to provide ongoing maintenance and assistance.
The U.S. Department of Defence leaders attended the A-29 Super Tucano induction ceremony, hosted by Nigeria’s minister of defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi and the Nigerian Air Force
U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, Jeff Harrigian said during the ceremony “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 described the Super Tucano as the impetus for significant deepening of training and professional relationships, adding that precision targeting, air-to-ground integration, and human rights training are all included in the partnership between the U.S. and Nigeria.The U.S. Embassy said the aircraft will assist the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against violent extremist organisations, including the Islamic State West Africa Province. The joint structure of air-to-ground integration also supports Nigerian Army and Navy operations.
It disclosed that Nigeria purchased the A-29s through the foreign military sales programme, which followed the Department of Defence’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 and U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, spoke to media about how this platform will help improve Nigerian Air Force capabilities, as well as increase training and integration opportunities between Nigerian and U.S. troops. The A-29 can perform intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and precision air-to-ground strikes, strengthening Nigeria’s ability to fight terrorism.
“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,” Harrigian said.
The statement stated that a total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force trained to U.S. standards with the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA. 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.
The Super Tucano induction ceremony is the latest of multiple significant engagements between U.S. Africa Command, its components, and Nigerian counterparts. Other recent engagements include a visit by the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) in August 2021 and U.S. Army Special Forces training with the Nigeria Navy Special Boat Service in July 2021.
U.S. Army General, Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, visited Nigeria in February 2021, where he met with President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, Ibrahim Gambari, minister of defence, Magashi, and chief of defence staff, Leo Irabor.