December 28, 2017

Boko Haram: US pledges to assist Nigeria with aircraft

Boko Haram: US pledges to assist Nigeria with  aircraft

Sentinel aircraft from Royal Air Force, Waddington in Lonconshire being prepared for operation in Nigeria, yesterday

…To produce, deliver 12 A29 Super Tucano Aircraft to Nigerian Air Force

By Kingsley Omonobi & Joseph Erunke

ABUJA—THE United States Government, US, has pledged to support Nigeria with required aircraft to help completely decimate Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.

It said it was committed to seeing to the complete defeat of the terrorist group, noting that peaceful existence in Nigeria was strategic to the security of the entire West African sub-region in particular and the world at large.

To this end, it has accepted an offer from the Nigerian Air Force not only to manufacture but also deliver 12 Embraer A29 Super Tucano Aircraft to Nigerian Air Force for the purpose of complementing its existing fleet to battle terrorism in the country.

US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, stated this, yesterday, in Abuja, while presented the Letters of Offer and Acceptance, LOA,  in respect of the A29 Super Tucano Aircraft to the Nigerian Air Force, NAF.

The LOA represents the official US government’s offer to sell US defence articles and services to the Nigerian Government.

Speaking while presenting the LOA to the Chief of Air Staff, CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at NAF Headquarters in Abuja, the US Ambassador noted that peaceful existence in Nigeria was strategic to the security of the entire West African Sub-region in particular and the entire world at large.

Accordingly, Ambassador Symington expressed the commitment of the US government to help Nigeria completely defeat the Boko Haram terrorists and also eliminate all forms of terrorism from its territory.

In addition, he conveyed the US Government’s belief that the capacity of the NAF could greatly be enhanced by the acquisition of the Super Tucano Aircraft.

According to him, the US Government would therefore continue to support the NAF in its capacity building efforts, including the timely supply of needed aircraft spares.

The US Ambassador also expressed the readiness of relevant US government officials to work with NAF officials to facilitate the early delivery of the aircraft once payment had been made. In that regard, officials of both the US government and the NAF will meet early in January 2018 to jointly study the LOA prior to subsequent endorsements by both parties.

The Chief of Air Staff, while receiving the LOA, thanked the US government for its steady support towards sustaining NAF air operations.

He also praised the personal commitment of the US Ambassador to ensuring that the Super Tucano Aircraft deal became a reality.

Air Marshal Abubakar agreed with Ambassador Symington that the wellbeing of Nigeria was closely linked to those of other African countries and indeed the entire world, as according to him, terrorism was a global phenomenon, which noted,  had to be confronted by all stakeholders.

He reassured the US Ambassador of the commitment of the NAF to the stipulated deadlines in the LOA.

The CAS also assured the US Ambassador that the NAF will ensure the readiness of proposed home base of the Super Tucano Aircraft in Nigeria before the aircraft’s delivery.

He further said that the NAF will nominate and prepare all the pilots and maintenance crew to be trained on the Super Tucano Aircraft, ahead of their training in the US.

It is expected that the LOA would have been signed and necessary payments made before 20 February 2018 to ensure the commencement of production of the NAF’s Super Tucano Aircraft.

It will  be recalled that the US State Department had earlier approved the sale of 12 x A29 Super Tucano Aircraft to the NAF to further aid the nation’s counterinsurgency campaign.

It will be recall that in early August this year, the US State Department had approved the sale of 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos to Nigeria, despite concerns from the previous administration over the Nigerian government’s bombing of civilians.

The department had in the month,  notified the US Congress, which had 30 days to approve the deal, of the $593 million foreign military sale.

The package includes the aircraft, weapons, training, spare parts and facilities to support the program, according to a 3 August announced by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.