The US Air Force awarded Sierra Nevada a $329 million foreign military sales contract to build 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft for the Nigerian Air Force, which are intended for use against Boko Haram and ISIS.
In addition to the 12 aircraft, the company is contracted to provide ground training devices, mission planning systems, mission debrief systems, spare parts, ground support equipment, alternate mission equipment and contractor support, the US Department of Defense says in a notice posted online.
The aircraft are expected to be completed in May 2024. Some $221 million will be given at the time of award.
The Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano is based on the Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano and is built in Jacksonville, Florida. The light attack aircraft is meant to provide close air support to ground troops by using weapons including precision guided bombs, unguided rockets, laser- and infrared-guided missiles and machine guns.
Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano
US Air Force
In August 2017, the US State Department approved the sale of the A-29 Super Tucano, spares, support equipment and services, and associated weapons for $593 million to the Nigerian Air Force. The associated weapons do not appear to be part of the recent $329 million award to Sierra Nevada.
“Nigeria is an important partner in the US national security goal to defeat ISIS, including its branches in Africa, and this sale is part of the US commitment to help Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries in that fight,” the State Department said in 2017. “The proposed sale, and associated training and engagement, is one piece of broader US security cooperation to help professionalise, modernise and build the capacity of Nigeria’s armed forces and strengthen the US security relationship with Africa's largest democracy.”
The aircraft would also be used by Nigeria to counter illicit trafficking within the country and the Gulf of Guinea.
The USAF is also considering buying the A-29 Super Tucano, alongside Textron’s Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine, for air support inside airspace that lacks advanced defences, such as with surface-to-air missiles. The service anticipates awarding a contract in the fourth quarter of 2019, ultimately acquiring hundreds of light attack aircraft. The US military sees the fighters as a cheaper alternative for certain missions to using aircraft such as Lockheed Martin F-35s and Boeing F-15s.