Six Super Tucano aircraft will soon be delivered to Nigeria from the United States, the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, has said.
The aircraft are part of the 12 fighter jets sold to Nigeria by the U.S. to aid combat actions and air assaults.
He said this on Monday after defending the 2021 budget estimates of the Nigerian Air Force before the Senate Committee on Air force.
The Air Force is also expecting the delivery of 19 additional aircraft in the fight against insecurity in the North East, and air fighters from the Nigeria Air force are already in the U.S. receiving additional training on usage and the applications of the fighter jets when eventually added to the fleet of combat aircraft.
He said the Airforce had carried out operations for over 60,000 hours with half of those in the North East to fight insurgency.
“We are expecting 3 J-17 fighters from Pakistan, 12 super Tucano from the United States, one M-171… Out of the 12 A – 29 Super Tucanos from the US, six are almost here as those to handle them have been sent on training for that purpose,” he said.
“A total of 200 personnel are receiving training in nine different countries of the world on handling combat aircraft. They will soon join their colleagues in the fight against insecurity and in particular, insurgency in the North East.”
After extensive discussions with the U.S. government, President Muhammadu Buhari in April 2018 placed an order for the aircraft.
He had said the procurement would help strengthen Nigeria’s national security, as well as a timely end to the Boko Haram war.
In a letter he wrote to the National Assembly, he informed that the Nigerian government transferred $469.4 million to the U.S. government for the purchase.
The Nigerian Air Force was to receive ground training devices, mission planning systems, mission debrief systems, spares, ground support equipment, and alternate mission equipment, as part of the contract for the 12 Super Tucano combat jetliners.
Although the lawmakers rejected it by saying it was unconstitutional for the president to pay such an amount to procure equipment from another country with appropriation, the federal government believed it would help in the war against terrorists in the country.
Meanwhile, during the budget defence session, the chairperson of the committee, Bala Ibn N’Allah, stated the need for the panel to visit the North East for an on-the-spot assessment of the region.
This is even as he commended the NAF for its contribution to fighting insurgency in the North East.
“The committee is willing and ready for two on-the-spot visits to the theatre (of terrorism) maybe Maiduguri and elsewhere, so that we can register formally our appreciation to the efforts of the Air Force to the challenges of insecurity.
“By this, we will be able to demonstrate that there are different ways to give our lives as far as protecting the territorial integrity of the country is concerned.
“There is no greater service one can render to one’s country than sacrificing one’s life to the peace and order, as well as protection of the territorial integrity of the country. We deeply appreciate the efforts of the Nigerian Air force.”
On his part, Sani Musa, a member of the committee, said the federal government must rededicate resources and deploy technology to fight insurgency. He added that N1 billion was meagre for serious training, research, and development.
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