Nigerian Air Force receives new facilities for Super Tucano fleet

2067

Less than two years after 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft were inducted into the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), an $38 million project to construct new facilities for the aircraft was successfully completed at Kainji Air Base.

To celebrate the occasion, the Nigerian Ministry of Defence hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on 27 April. US Chargé d’Affaires for Nigeria David Greene, Director of the US Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate Brigadier General Joel Safranek, US Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division Commander Colonel John Lloyd, and other US officials joined Air Vice Marshal Nnamdi Nwokoma Ananaba and other Nigerian Air Force partners to celebrate the completion of the final phase of the construction programme for Super Tucano support facilities.

“Since my arrival in Nigeria last year, I have closely tracked the progress of the A-29 programme and am grateful, today, to celebrate the fruits of US-Nigerian partnership and commitment,” stated Greene. “Nigeria’s A-29 programme is the largest US foreign military sales case to date to a country in Sub-Saharan Africa, an example of Nigeria’s leadership in being, as is the Nigerian Air Force’s motto, ‘willing, able, and ready’ to contribute to security and stability at home and around the region.”

“This ceremony marks the end of the construction process and the turnover of new facilities to the Nigerian Air Force for its use,” said Brigadier General Joel Safranek, Director of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Centre’s (AFLCMC) Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation (AFSAC) Directorate, which organized and led the security cooperation agreement. “The A-29 provides light attack, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities needed to confront security threats, and the newly constructed facilities provide the support needed to keep the aircraft operational and effective. The United States looks forward to a long-term, enduring relationship with Nigeria.”

The effort, in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, is AFSAC’s first major construction project in sub-Saharan Africa and is part of a larger $500 million total package approach, to include the acquisition, training, and long-term sustainment of the aircraft, US Air Force Material Command said.

The base improvements were delivered in two main phases, with the first phase completed in 2021 to allow for the safe delivery of the first A-29 aircraft, which now play a key role in Nigerian Air Force operations to combat violent extremist organizations, such as ISIS-West Africa and Boko Haram.

Some of the major construction upgrades include the creation of a munition storage area with earth covered magazines for secure storage capability. The area also includes a munitions maintenance and assembly facility, new taxiway, and hot cargo pad.

To support A-29 operations, a new facility with mission planning and debriefing rooms and a Battle Aviation Training Device, was constructed.

The team also modernized an existing hangar, adding more electrical capability to maintain the aircraft and renovating the tire shop and battery room. In addition, 12 sunshades were installed to provide sun protection for maintenance crews and the aircraft when they are not in a hangar.

The construction project also significantly increased security infrastructure with the installation of miles of fencing, and improvements to base entry control points, US Air Force Material Command said.

Crews are now finishing the second and final phase of air base improvement projects, which include improved base security, munitions storage and maintenance, aircraft hangars and aprons, and training facilities to ensure the continued successful operations of the new fighter wing.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District, which is part of the larger US Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division, oversaw the construction of these projects, which are key to facilitating the operation and maintenance of the 12 Super Tucanos and their accompanying munitions.

The Nigerian Air Force also winged six additional pilots on the Super Tucano, who constitute the last batch of a total of 24 pilots trained within the acquisition package.

Meanwhile, the NAF is gearing up for its 59th anniversary celebrations, which will be held between 4 and 7 May. The Chairman of the NAF Day Celebration Organising Committee, Air Commodore Chukwuedo Illoh, said new platforms will be inducted and these are Diamond DA 62 special mission aircraft, and Wing Loong II and CW 40 unmanned aerial vehicles.