The United States Department of Defence (US DOD) has assured the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) of its readiness to channel all efforts towards on-schedule delivery of the 12 units of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, which were recently paid for by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). This assurance was given on 3 December 2018 by the Director of the United States Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation (AFSAC) Directorate, Brigadier General Sean Farrell, during a meeting between representatives of the US DOD and the NAF, held at the Headquarters NAF in Abuja.
General Farrell, who is one of the senior officers from US DOD overseeing the ongoing process of the procurement of the A-29 Supper Tucano aircraft, mentioned that he and members of his team were in Nigeria to discuss the delivery schedule of the aircraft as well as the construction effort at NAF Base where the aircraft would be stationed. He expressed the readiness of his team to complete the execution of the contract in record time while noting that the visit to the Base would provide the team with firsthand knowledge of the construction site as well as help avoid delays in schedule and risks in the future. He added that the AFSAC is committed to assisting the NAF to deliver air power capability expeditiously in order to add value to what the Service is already doing in the Counter Insurgency (COIN) operations in the the Northeastern part of Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, applauded the US Government for the support it has rendered to the NAF over the years, which, he noted, had been instrumental in ensuring success in the COIN operations in the Northeast, despite recent setbacks. He said it had also enabled the NAF to project air power within the West African Sub-Region, such as the deployment of NAF aircraft to the Gambia in 2017 which facilitated the peaceful transition of power in that country thereby ensuring the sustenance of democracy. He reiterated that the Boko Haram menace was not a local problem but a global one, because the consequences of not adequately dealing with the threat would not only impact on Nigeria and the West African Sub-Region but also on other parts of Africa and the rest of the world. This, he noted, underscored the need for international collaboration and cooperation to adequately and decisively deal with the threat.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq has had the unfortunate effect of exacerbating the problem in Nigeria with transfer of fighters and equipment into and around the West African Sub-Region, thereby emboldening the terrorist group who now have more sophisticated weapons and equipment. He stressed that the induction of the A-29 would, greatly enhance NAF’s capability to more effectively prosecute the war against insurgency in the Northeast. He therefore urged the AFSAC team to do all within its power to ensure that at least 2 of the aircraft are delivered to Nigeria even before the new delivery date of 2021. The CAS also used the opportunity to thank the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the National Assembly for granting the approvals that had enabled the acquisition of the 12 aircraft.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force