In response to agitations on $1 billion removed from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) by the Federal Government to acquire ammunition, the Presidency has disclosed that six of the 12 Super Tucanos fighter jets procured from the United States were on track to arrive in mid-July of 2021.
The presidency added that the other six to complete the number acquired from US would arrive in the country at a later date and that 14 Nigerian pilots have been deployed to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia to undergo training on the fighter jets operations.
This assurance came barely three years after the apex government obtained $1 billion from ECA to acquired ammunition and set aside $329 million for the purchase of 12 fighter jets.
Other percentages of the funds jointly approved by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) were said to have been released to arms manufacturers in United Arab Emirate (UAE) and the ammunition was said to have been allegedly intercepted by the government and decided to hold on to procurement from the country.
Confirming the arrival date, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Thursday, disclosed that the hangar for the aircraft were already been built in readiness for their arrival.
Shehu, in a statement made available to The Guild, added that five of the jets were already on display and that they were been used to train the 14 Nigerian pilots sent to the US for training.
“The Super Tucanos came off the production line in Jacksonville Florida and are now being equipped and flight tested. Nigerian pilots and maintenance personnel are training on these planes. Currently, the construction is ongoing, which will house the aircraft. The Air-Ground-Integration school is the training hub on targeting and minimization of civilian casualties.
“At present, five Nigerian Super Tucanos are at Moody AFB in Georgia for pilot and maintainer training. The two companies released images of the sixth aircraft, which also will be flown to Moody, in a jungle camouflage scheme.
“The painted jungle scheme NAF A-29 now moves on to mission modification at Moody Air Force Base,” says SNC. “Following modification, before delivery, NAF pilots and maintenance personnel will further train in the aircraft.”
“In November 2018, SNC was awarded a $329 million Foreign Military Sales contract from the US government to build 12 A-29s for the Nigerian air force. The armed turboprops are intended for use against Boko Haram and Islamic State militants”, the special adviser added.