The United States Department of Defense awarded a $329 million contract to the Sierra Nevada Corporation to manufacture 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
The 12 aircraft upon completion and delivery are expected to provide training and boost counterterrorism operations against Boko Haram terrorists.
The contract costs also covers ground training equipment, mission planning systems, mission debrief systems, spares, ground support equipment and support services.
According to the Department of Defense, the works will be performed in Jacksonville, Florida, and is scheduled for completion in May 2024.
In December 2017, The Nigerian Air Force received letters of offer and acceptance for the Super Tucano contract. In August last year the Nigerian contract 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.
The aircraft can carry two .50 caliber machines guns internally in the wings, and a mixture of gun pods such as miniguns, rockets, guided missiles, bombs and sensor pods like the FLIR. It can loiter at low speed and altitude over a target area for hours in order to support ground troops.
Light aircraft like the Tucano can fulfill air support and surveillance needs in low-risk environments at a much lower operational cost than heavier fighter jets like the A-10 or F-16 and require less flight and maintenance training.
Based on an earlier request, it is possible that Nigerian Air Force will be getting AN/AAQ-22F electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor and laser designator turrets.