Nigeria may buy 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos via the U.S. foreign military sales (FMS) system. The possible sale was submitted to the U.S. Congress last week, and is worth $593 million including weapons, training, spares, support and construction, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).
The Pentagon has been making the Super Tucano available to foreign air forces via the Light Air Support (LAS) program. Afghanistan and Lebanon have taken delivery of 20 and six Super Tucanos, respectively. U.S.-based Sierra Nevada is Embraer’s partner and the prime contractor for these sales. The aircraft are assembled and completed in Jacksonville, Fla.
The DSCA said that the proposed sale “will support Nigerian military operations against terrorist organizations Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa, and Nigerian efforts to counter illicit trafficking in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. The Super Tucano is a sustainable platform for counterterrorism, counter-insurgency, border surveillance and illicit trade interdiction operations. Nigeria is an important partner in the U.S. national security goal to defeat ISIS, including its branches in Africa, and this sale is part of the U.S. commitment to help Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries in that fight.”
In a nod to previous questionable operations by the Nigerian air force, the DSCA noted that U.S. government and contractor representatives would be assigned to the country, where they would provide “special training on the law of armed conflict and human rights, and air-to-ground integration to minimize civilian harm in air operations.” Last January, a Nigerian military commander admitted that an air force jet had mistakenly attacked a camp near the border with Cameroon. It contained refugees who had fled from Boko Haram. According to media reports, up to 100 were killed.
Before that attack, during The Fighter Conference in London last November, organized by IQPC, a senior Nigerian Air Force commander claimed that the government was making significant progress against Boko Haram in the northeast of the country. “We are winning hearts and minds there, through medical services and strict rules of engagement,” he said.