The U.S. government has announced that it has approved the sale of attack aircraft and other pieces of equipment to Nigeria. The aircraft is expected to be used against terrorists and other gunmen operating in the West African country.
According to a statement Thursday by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the pieces of equipment are to cost Nigeria about $997 million.
The acquisition of the aircraft and other pieces of equipment comes less than a year after the U.S. government supplied the country with 12 units of super Tucano aircraft paid for by Nigeria.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) last year, took delivery of the second batch of six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States.
The first batch also comprising six aircraft was delivered in July 2021.
New pieces of equipment
According to the Thursday statement, the pieces of equipment requested to be purchased by the Nigerian government include 12 AH-1Z Attack Helicopters; twenty-eight (28) T-700 GE 401C engines (24 installed, 4 spares); and two thousand (2,000) Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guidance sections.
Others are Night Vision Cueing Display (NVCD); commercial variant GPS with St andard Positioning Service (SPS), and communication equipment.
The pieces of equipment also include electronic warfare systems; AN/AVS-9 Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System; M197 20mm machine gun; Target Sight System (TSS); support equipment; spare engine containers; spare and repair parts; tools and test equipment; technical data and publication.
The statement said the sum to be paid by Nigeria also covers the training of personnel in handling the pieces of equipment.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a strategic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The proposed sale will better equip Nigeria to contribute to shared security objectives, promote regional stability and build interoperability with the U.S. and other Western partners.
“This sale will be a major contribution to U.S. and Nigerian security goals. Nigeria will have no difficulty absorbing the equipment and services into its armed force,” the statement read.
The U.S. also stated that training of Nigerian officials for the maintenance of the equipment will be for a period of five years and will require approximately three contractor support representatives to reside in Nigeria for a period of two years.
Nigeria’s recent purchase of weapons from the U.S. has faced no criticism. However, in the recent past, Nigeria’s human rights record was mentioned as a reason the U.S. refused to sell weapons to the country.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama had blocked the sale of the Tucano aircraft to Nigeria based on Nigeria’s poor human rights record. Mr Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, however, reversed the decision and approved the sale.
Before taking the delivery of the Tucano aircraft, the Nigerian Air Force had disclosed last year that air fighters from Nigeria were already in the U.S. receiving additional training on the usage and the applications of the jets when eventually added to the Nigerian fleet.
The aircraft was expected to aid the fight against insecurity in the northeast and other parts of the country but the security situation has not improved across the country despite the purchase.