US Air Force 81st Fighter Squadron Says Farewell to Last Nigerian Air Force A-29 Class
US Air Force 81st Fighter Squadron Says Farewell to Last Nigerian Air Force A-29 Class

US Air Force 81st Fighter Squadron Says Farewell to Last Nigerian Air Force A-29 Class

The U.S. Air Force 81st Fighter Squadron hosted training with the Nigerian Air Force on the A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft since September 2020, and has graduated its final class at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Sept. 2, 2021. Each class was approximately nine months of training consisting of ground mechanics, aircraft familiarization and piloting the aircraft. The 81st FS trained not only pilots, but also maintainers, munition technicians and other specialties.

“We started from the initial qualification training and that’s just to introduce you to the aircraft, flight characteristics of the aircraft and how to use it in different situations,” said Nigerian Air Force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft pilot from the 407th Air Combat Training Group. “From there, we went on to the mission training, which is how to employ the aircraft in a combat situation in different environments, and how to employ the guns, rockets and bombs.”

An A-29 Super Tucano aircraft pilot taxis down the runway to depart Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Sept. 15, 2021. The U.S. government sold 12 A-29 aircraft to the Nigerian Air Force to enhance their capabilities in providing national security for Nigeria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebeckah Medeiros)

U.S. Air Force Maj. “T-Rex” Grillos, 81st FS A-29 Super Tucano aircraft evaluator pilot, said the partnership with the NAF not only improves tactics, techniques and procedures for both parties, but by providing the training, the 81st FS enables the NAF to be force multipliers for years to come. A lot of other nations see the U.S. Air Force and its success as something that they would like to emulate. We can build relationships, maintain relationships, improve capability and create more targeting problems for our enemies by devoting effort to our combat operations.”

The Nigerian government purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft as well as parts, simulators and more from the U.S. government under a $493 million foreign military sales contract. The Nigerian Air Force pilot said it is most ideal for the United States to train the pilots how to employ the aircraft since they are selling the aircraft to them. Working with the NAF shows the U.S. Air Force’s capability to globalize their training program and efficacy. The last wave of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft departed Moody AFB for Kainji Air Base, Nigeria, Sept. 15, 2021.

Nigerian Air Force Air Vice Marshal Sule Lawal, Nigerian A-29 program lead foreign liaison officer, right, recognizes Nigerian Air Force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft pilot, left, as a distinguished graduate for the mission qualification syllabus during the NAF A-29 pilot graduation ceremony at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Sept. 2, 2021. Upon graduating, the NAF pilots are qualified to strafe with two .50-caliber machine guns, shoot high explosive rockets, and drop both general purpose and laser guided bombs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebeckah Medeiros)