US begins constructing A-29 facility in Nigeria

The United States Air Force has commenced construction of the facilities needed to support Nigeria’s new A-29 Super Tucano air wing.

The contract for the construction was awarded by the US Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate’s Foreign Military Sales Construction Division to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District, worth $36.1 million.

The new facilities will support twelve A-29 aircraft, and will include the construction of new airfield hot cargo pad, perimeter and security fencing, munitions assembly and storage, small arms storage, a flight annex wing building for simulator training, airfield lighting, and various airfield apron, parking, hangar, and entry control point improvements, says a press statement by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Public Affairs on 28 August.

“With this recent contract award, we are ready to be part of the modernization of Nigerian Air Force facilities and infrastructure,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Bruckbauer, director of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate.

“As a member of the Nigeria A-29 FMS Program, and this being AFSAC’s first major construction project in sub-Saharan Africa, we are thrilled to be able to support the Nigerian people in advancing their defensive capabilities. We look forward to building and strengthening this strategic partnership with the Nigerian people.”

The 12 A-29 Super Tucano counter insurgency aircrafts are slated to be based at the Kainji Air Base located in the western state of Niger at the southern end of Kainji Lake.

When delivered, they’ll immediately commence counter-terror operations across the country.

Nigeria first indicated interest in the well-proven A-29 low intensity warfare aircraft in April 2017, and in August that same year, the United States approved the country’s request for twelve aircrafts.

Nigeria signed for twelve Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC)-Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light-attack turboprops, with a contract awarded on 28 November 2018.

The first A-29 Super Tucano for the Nigerian Air Force flew in April this year with deliveries from 2021.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) awarded prime contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) $329.08 million for the 12 aircraft, with a further $15.65 million potentially earmarked for forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensors on six aircraft. As noted by the DoD, these FLIR systems are expected to be funded shortly.

In addition to the aircraft, the current Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract would include ground training technologies, mission planning systems, mission debrief systems, spares, ground support equipment, alternate mission equipment, as well as US contractor support.

According to the Department of Defence, work is expected to be completed in May 2024.

So far, the first A-29 Super Tucano for the Nigerian Air Force flew in April this year with deliveries from 2021.

Moody Air Force Base in Georgia is currently training the Nigerian Air Force pilots and maintenance personnel on the Super Tucano.

Ekene Lionel

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