The Nigerian Air Force yesterday commissioned operations support facilities and winged 6 additional pilots on the A-29 Super Tucano (A-29ST) aircraft. The latest facility induction is a major milestone recorded by the Service in its acquisition of the United States-made aircraft. The ceremony signifies the official completion of the A-29ST projects by the Government of the United States as part of the government-to-government sale of the A-29ST aircraft to Nigeria.
The occasion was chaired by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal Idi Lubo, who represented the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao. Speaking at the occasion, AVM Lubo noted that the projects are the last of the infrastructure development packages executed towards actualising full operation and security of the A-29ST aircraft, while expressing the hope that the facilities would ensure optimal employment of the aircraft in furtherance of NAF readiness and responsiveness to security challenges in the country.
As the A-29ST programme winds up, yesterday event provided the opportunity to wing 6 pilots who constitute the last batch of a total of 24 pilots trained within the package. Recall that discussion about NAF acquisition of the A-29ST aircraft started in 2016; however, the contract for the production of the aircraft was awarded to Sierra Nevada Corporation in 2018. The contract comprised supply of 12 aircraft and infrastructure and facility upgrade to support the aircraft operation. The first phase of the contract has since been completed with the delivery of the entire aircraft, while yesterday infrastructure handover and commissioning ceremony marked the completion of the second phase.
Special appreciations to the Governments of Nigeria and the United States and everyone who made the project a reality, including those who graced the event yesterday, particularly the Charge D’affaires US Embassy in Nigeria, Mr David Greene, and representative of the US Air Force, Brigadier General Joel W. Safranek among several others.