Nigeria’s military will not be able to receive the already paid-for 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft until 2024 from the United States.
Reports said the United States Department of Defence has just awarded a $329 million contract to the Sierra Nevada Corporation to manufacture the planes for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), months after Nigeria paid for them.
The planes are needed to combat Boko Haram insurgency in the north east of the country.
defence.co.za reported that the contract was announced on 28 November and is worth $329m for the aircraft, although the total not-to-exceed amount is approved at $344.7m.
It will include Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) systems for six of the aircraft. These systems will be funded soon after the initial contract award, the website said.
In addition to the 12 aircraft, the contract provides for ground training equipment, mission planning systems, mission debrief systems, spares, ground support equipment and support services.
Nigeria paid $462m for the aircraft and a host of other accessories and weapons in April.
The Department of Defence said that work will be performed in Jacksonville, Florida, and is expected to be completed in May 2024.
The Nigerian Air Force in December 2017 received letters of offer and acceptance for the Super Tucano deal.
In August last year the Nigerian deal was valued at $593 million and included Paveway II guided bombs, laser-guided rockets, 12.7 mm ammunition, unguided bombs and infrared sensors. Some of this may be acquired under separate contracts.
Based on an earlier request, it can be assumed that Nigeria will be getting AN/AAQ-22F electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor and laser designator turrets.
The sale of the aircraft has been dogged by controversy.
Under Barack Obama, the deal was cancelled due to accusations of human rights abuses against Nigeria’s military.
But President Donald Trump’s administration approved the sale to support Nigeria’s efforts to fight Boko Haram militants and to boost US defence jobs.
However, the deal nearly stalled earlier this year when the Nigerian defence ministry complained over the late delivery date of the aircraft and the fact that Nigerian personnel were to be excluded from the aircraft’s production and maintenance processes.
Defence Minister Mansur Dan Ali in January refused to accept these conditions.