On February 15, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard and Brigadier General Thomas Tickner visited Kainji Air Force Base to break ground on the final phase of the $38 million construction project for the A-29 Super Tucanos’ support facilities. They were joined by the Deputy Director for the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate Ronald Taylor and senior Nigerian Air Force officials. The construction site will be the location of several critical facilities including sunshades to house the A-29 Super Tucanos, munitions assembly and storage areas, and an annex for the A-29 flight simulator. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) North Atlantic Division is overseeing the construction of this necessary infrastructure for the operation and maintenance of the A-29 Super Tucanos and their accompanying munitions.
Brigadier General Thomas Tickner, Commander of USACE’s North Atlantic Division, echoed Ambassador Leonard’s sentiment, “We are proud to partner with the U.S. Embassy, U.S. Air Force, and the Nigerian Air Force to deliver support facilities for their new fleet of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. These projects are a prime example of USACE’s unique ability to apply its engineering expertise in ways that build partner capacity, strengthen strategic relationships, and bolster Nigeria’s security capability.”
While touring the site, Ambassador Leonard explained the importance of this groundbreaking, “We are not just here today to celebrate a milestone in airbase construction, but a milestone in a partnership between our two countries. This monumental undertaking of the Nigerian Air Force through the A-29 Super Tucano program reflects the work ethic, ingenuity, and dedication of the Nigerian people.”
This construction project is a part of the historic $500 million U.S. foreign military sale to Nigeria, which also includes the delivery of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircrafts, munitions, and world-class training. This is the largest U.S. foreign military sales case in Sub-Saharan Africa and demonstrates the strong partnership between the United States and Nigeria. The United States is committed to assisting Nigeria in its efforts to create a more peaceful, prosperous nation. The infrastructure package also includes a flight annex wing building for simulator training as well as munitions assembly and storage and small arms storage. USACE has also stationed a project engineer at Kainji to provide ongoing maintenance and assistance. A total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force trained to U.S. standards with the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA. The Super Tucano induction ceremony is the latest of multiple significant engagements between U.S. Africa Command, its components, and Nigerian counterparts.
The A-29 Super Tucano also named ALX or Embraer EMB 314, is a Brazilian turboprop light attack aircraft designed and built by Embraer as a development of the Embraer EMB 312 Tucano. The A-29 Super Tucano carries a wide variety of weapons, including precision-guided munitions, and was designed to be a low-cost system operated in low-threat environments. In addition to its manufacture in Brazil, Embraer has set up a production line in the United States in conjunction with Sierra Nevada Corporation for the manufacture of A-29s to export customers. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will take delivery the full order of 12 A-29 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft by October 2021 from Embraer Defence Security Incorporated (EDSI). A second batch of six examples will be delivered before the end of the year, adds Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the prime contractor for the Nigerian acquisition. The long duration was due to the challenges of configuring the aircraft to fit Nigerian Air Force’s required specifications.