The first six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will be delivered in July this year and the remaining six on order will arrive before the end of October.
This emerged during a Nigerian oversight visit to the United States. The National Assembly (NASS) Joint Committee on Defence and Air Force, led by Senator Michael Nnachi, arrived in the United States on 27 May to assess the status and progress of work on the NAF’s Super Tucano aircraft.
While briefing the NASS team, Colonel Authur Ford of the United States Air Force Fighters and Advance Aircraft Directorate stated that 10 out of the 12 aircraft were ready for delivery while two were undergoing modification and integration to NAF specific operational configuration. He went on to state that six of the aircraft are scheduled to arrive in Nigeria in July 2021 while the remaining six will be delivered before the end of October 2021. The NASS team was assured that the aircraft, expected to play critical roles in the fight against insurgency and criminality, would be delivered as planned.
Nnachi commended Embraer for the quality of work on the NAF’s Super Tucanos but, according to a Nigerian Air Force statement, he queried the long duration of time from the date of full payment to expected date of delivery, which he estimated to be between 3 to 4 years. In response, Ford informed the team that the long duration was due to the challenges of configuring the aircraft to meet NAF specifications.
The first Nigerian Super Tucano flew in April 2020 and by the end of 2020, six Super Tucanos were being used for conversion training of NAF pilots at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, who were there along with 26 engineers, technicians and logisticians. Another set of 35 personnel were also scheduled to join them early this year. In addition, a team from the USA is currently in Kainji overseeing the construction of critical infrastructure provided in the contract ahead of the delivery of the aircraft.
The roughly 40-year old runway at Kainji used by the 407 Air Combat Training Group (ACTG) has been earmarked for resurfacing – Nigeria’s Super Tucanos will be based at Kainji Air Base in the west of the country, with upgrade and renovation work scheduled to be carried out at the base ahead of delivery – work started in August 2020 and includes a 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.