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War on terror: Nigerian pilots train on Super Tucano fighter jets at US Air Force base ahead of delivery

Nigerian pilots are currently training on Super Tucano fighter jets at the Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, United States, checks by The ICIR have revealed.

The federal government recently announced that Nigeria would deliver six out of the 12 units of fighter aircraft it ordered in mid-July 2021. The aircraft are to be deployed in the war against terror in the country.

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) told The ICIR that the Nigerian pilots are training with the jets ahead of their delivery to Nigeria.

AFRICOM’s West Africa media chief, Nicole Kirschmann, disclosed in response to enquiries by The ICIR concerning steps taken by the US military command to tackle terrorism in Sub-Saharan African countries, including Nigeria.

The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, also named ALX or A-29, is a Brazilian turboprop light attack aircraft designed and built by Embraer to develop the Embraer EMB 312 Tucano. The A-29 Super Tucano carries a wide variety of weapons, including precision-guided munitions, and was designed to be a low-cost system operated in low-threat environments. In addition to its manufacture in Brazil, Embraer has set up a production line in the US in conjunction with Sierra Nevada Corporation to manufacture A-29s to many export customers.

“Currently, the US is working to deliver A-29 Super Tucanos to the Nigerian Armed Forces, and Nigerian pilots are currently training on that aircraft with US Air Force Pilots at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, USA,” Kirschmann said in an email response to questions raised by The ICIR‘s correspondent.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the prime contractor for the purchase of the Super Tucanos, had in a report published by Flight Global on March 9, 2021, said five Nigerian Super Tucanos, which have been painted in jungle camouflage, are at Moody AFB in Georgia for pilot and maintainer training.

“The painted jungle scheme NAF A-29 now moves on to mission modification at Moody Air Force Base. Following modification, before delivery, NAF pilots and maintenance personnel will further train in the aircraft,” SNC said in the report by Flight Global.

In November 2018, SNC was awarded a $329 million Foreign Military Sales contract from the US government to build 12 A-29 Super Tucanos for the Nigerian air force. The armed turboprops are intended for use against Boko Haram and Islamic State militants.

SNC reported produces the aircraft in Jacksonville, Florida.

The AFRICOM spokesperson’s response confirmed that Nigerian Air Force pilots are now training with the fighter jets following the modification stage’s completion.

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