The Nigerian Air Force is preparing to welcome its first A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft after they got underway from the United States on July 14.
According to Nigerian Air Force spokesman Edward Gabkwet, the first six aircraft will make stops in Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Spain, and Algeria, before arriving in Nigeria by the end of the month.
The Super Tucanos are being delivered by the Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) duo from their Jacksonville, Florida, and Centennial, Colorado, facilities. In March this year, five of the the first batch of aircraft were based at the US Air Force’s Moody Air Base in Georgia, for pilot and maintenance personnel training.
A further six Super Tucano are to be delivered to Nigeria before the end of the year, according to current plans.
Nigeria’s first A-29 completed its inaugural flight at the production facility in Jacksonville, Florida in April 2020, several months before the West African state began work on new facilities that will support the Super Tucano fleet.
Nigeria became the 14th international customer of the A-29 after placing an order in 2018. The country bought the aircraft to boost its capability to contain insurgencies in the northeast of the country, which are led by Boko Haram and the Islamic State.
The arrival of the Super Tucanos will be welcome news as Nigeria lost two aircraft in fatal crashes earlier this year. In February, a Beechcraft King Air B350i (NAF 201) crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport in Abuja, killing all personnel on board. Less than two months later, an Alpha jet crashed over Borno state. Boko Haram quickly claimed responsibility for the downing of the aircraft, but the air force disputed these claims.