Nigeria’s purchase of 12 new A-29 Super Tucano jets at a sum of $500 million is the largest single arms procurement in sub-Saharan Africa, the United States Department of Defense has said.
Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, disclosed this on Tuesday at the A-29 Super Tucano induction ceremony, hosted by Nigerian Minister of Defense Bashir Salihi Magashi and the Nigerian Air Force in Abuja.
“The Nigerian Air Force is one of our key partners that play a critical role in furthering regional security and stability,” Harrigian was quoted as saying in a statement by the US Embassy in Abuja.
“This ceremony symbolizes the strength of our unique partnership and underscores the value of training and working together,” he said.
The Super Tucanos were the impetus for the significant deepening of training and professional relationships, he added.
The statement said, “Precision targeting, air-to-ground integration, and human rights training are all included in the partnership between the U.S. and Nigeria.
“The aircraft will assist the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against violent extremist organizations including the Islamic State West Africa Province.
“The joint structure of air-to-ground integration also supports Nigerian Army and Navy operations.
“Nigeria purchased the A-29s through the Foreign Military Sales programme, which follows the Department of Defense’s “Total Package Approach” model and includes spare parts for several years of operation, contract logistics support, munitions, and a multi-year construction project to improve Kainji Air Base infrastructure.
“The total sale is valued at almost $500 million, making it the largest FMS program in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Harrigian said the A-29 is a prime tool to help Nigeria combat violent extremism and is vital to sustained deterrence.
“The total package deal—aircrew and maintainer training, precision-guided weapon delivery, and more—highlights our enduring partnership with the Nigerian Air Force and our commitment to enabling their successes where we can.”
A total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force were trained to U.S. standards with the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA.
The training also emphasized the Law of Armed Conflict and civilian casualty mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training.
As part of the programme, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing $36.1M in infrastructure support to the A-29s’ home base, Kainji Air Base, including covered magazines and aircraft sunshades, a new airfield hot cargo pad, perimeter and security fencing, airfield lights, and various airfield apron, parking, hangar, and entry control point enhancements.
The infrastructure package also includes a flight annex wing building for simulator training as well as munitions assembly and storage and small arms storage.
16 killed as Russian plane carrying parachute jumpers crashes
About 16 people have been killed and seven injured after a plane crashed in Russia’s Tatarstan region, the RIA news agency cited the emergency services as saying.
The plane was carrying a group of parachute jumpers, the emergencies ministry was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.
Seven people were pulled out alive from the wreckage, it said.
The remaining 15 were “without signs of life”, a representative of the emergency services told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The plane was a Let L-410 Turbolet, which is a twin-engine short-range transport aircraft. The crash took place at about 9:23am (06:23 GMT).
Images published by the ministry showed the aircraft broken in half with a severely dented nose.
The local health ministry said that the seven survivors are in hospital, one is in “very serious condition”, RIA Novosti reported.
Russian aviation safety standards have improved in recent years but accidents, especially involving ageing planes in far-flung regions, are not uncommon.
Last month, an ageing Antonov An-26 transport plane crashed in the Russian far east, killing six people.
All 28 people on board an Antonov An-26 twin-engine turboprop died in a crash in Kamchatka in July.
The country also frequently experiences non-fatal air incidents that result in rerouted flights and emergency landings, usually stemming from technical issues.
Flying in Russia can be particularly dangerous in the vast country’s isolated regions, such as the Arctic and the Far East, where weather conditions are frequently extreme.
Reps on oversight function, others stranded for 12 hours at Kano airport
Members of the House of Representatives’ committee on Petroleum Upstream on oversight function to Kano State were stranded for hours at the airport.
They had arrived at Kano airport by 12.30pm en route Abuja at 2pm on Wednesday only to be deserted by their airline.
The spokesman for the House, Benjamin Kalu, who was affected by the delay said after a long wait of about 12 hours, a promise from the Azman airline to lift them only came at 12.15am, Thursday, that’s Wednesday midnight.
He said, “Twelve hours wait for a one-hour flight between Kano and Abuja. All passengers including the House of Reps members are abandoned with no one addressing them or giving them or given a cup of water.
He said, “We got here 12.30pm and we are told we will be lifted 12.15am.
“The National Assembly members frown on how their citizens are treated in such delay.”
United Airlines to begin US-Nigeria flights on Nov 29
United Airlines says it will begin flight operations from the Virginia, United States, to Lagos, Nigeria on November 29.
The announcement came via the verified Twitter account of the US Mission in Nigeria on Saturday.
According to the tweet, the airline operation will commence on November 29.
It stated that the “nonstop flights” will fly from Dulles international airport, Virginia, to Lagos, adding that the “tickets will be available for booking in a few days.”
“Awesome! A welcome addition to increasing the burgeoning connections between the US and Nigeria!” the tweet read.
“We are pleased to see that United Airlines will launch from Dulles International Airport to Lagos starting November 29. Tickets will be available for booking in a few days,” it stated.
The United Airlines stated that it would operate flights on Monday, Thursday and Saturday every week.
The tweet stated that the flight — Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays — would be undertaken on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
“Make room for one more, Dulles Airport! Our nonstop to Lagos, Nigeria, is now for sale,” it stated.
“The first flight takes off November 29, with service on a 787-8 on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.”
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