The US Air Force has ordered six more Embraer A-29s for the Afghan air force, bringing the total fleet size to 26 Super Tucanos.
Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer will start production of the six new jets immediately at Embraer’s production facility in Jacksonville, Florida. The recent order is separate from another Embraer sale earlier this month, which announced an undisclosed buyer purchased six new Super Tucanos for tactical training, light attack and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. That contract did not involve SNC, a company spokeswoman tells FlightGlobal.
Kabul welcomed four more of the Brazilian light attack aircraft last spring before the start of combat operations in the 2017 fighting season. The USAF delivered the Super Tucanos in 2016 to Afghanistan, where the air force has employed them in air reconnaissance missions and advanced flight training.
SNC and Embraer also delivered the first two A-29 aircraft for the Lebanese air force on 9 October. Like the Afghan order, SNC will hand over the A-29s to the USAF first, which will commission the fleet to Lebanon. Four more Super Tucanos from the $173 million foreign military sales contract have been delivered to Moody AFB, Georgia and will arrive in Lebanon in early summer 2018, SNC says.
An investigation into the crash of an A-29 last March outside Moody AFB, Georgia, is still under investigation, an SNC spokeswoman tells FlightGlobal this week. Two pilots from the 81st Fighter Squadron ejected safely from the jet. The investigation has not provided initial findings, SNC says.
Meanwhile, Congress recently approved the controversial sale of 12 Super Tucanos to Nigeria following the US State Department’s green light in August. The estimated $593 million foreign military sale includes the aircraft, weapons, training, spare parts and facilities to support the programme. The Obama administration had put a hold on the sale following the Nigerian air force’s bombing of a refugee camp on the border of Cameroon in January 2017, but President Donald Trump restarted the approval process in the spring. With Congressional notification complete, the USAF is drafting a letter of acceptance to present to the Nigerian air force.