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Six Super Tucano aircraft to arrive July – FG

SENIOR Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Buhari, Garba Shehu, has disclosed that six of the 12 Super Tucano fighter aircraft ordered by the Federal Government will arrive in the country by July.

He noted that 14 pilots of Nigeria extraction are currently training at Moody Air Force Base in George in preparation for the operation of the jets.

In a statement titled, ‘Nigeria’s Super Tucanos To Arrive Mid-July 2021,’ Shehu said, “Six of the twelve Super Tucanos are on track to arrive in mid-July 2021. With the remaining six shortly after that. There are 14 Nigerian pilots currently training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.

“The Super Tucanos came off the production line in Jacksonville Florida and are now being equipped and flight tested. Nigerian pilots and maintenance personnel are training on these planes. Currently, the construction is ongoing, which will house the aircraft.

“The Air-Ground-Integration school is the training hub on targeting and minimization of civilian casualties.”

The procurement of the 12 Super Tucano aircraft has been marked by controversy since the government place an order for them in 2018 for $496million.

But three years after placing the order no delivery has been made.

However, last week the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd.), dropped what appeared to be a bombshell when he alleged that that $1bn funds meant to purchase arms including the Super Tucanos to tackle insurgency during the ex-service chiefs’ tenure got missing.

Though hours later, Monguno, who made the statement during an interview with BBC Hausa, said he was quoted out of context by the press, the news had already gone viral.

But Shehu Garba came to his defence by saying, “In August 2018, they allowed the Nigerian government to buy 12 super Tucano aircraft suitable for the kind of war we are fighting in the north-east. In addition to that, other arms of the military have also made procurements. The navy has done nearly 100 per cent of its procurement — equipment delivered.

“The airforce has bought several attack helicopters — 35 helicopters from Ukraine. Some of them have been commissioned on national television. We have bought a lot of drones, but with the army, there have been problems with procurement. The equipment has been coming bits and in pieces.

“This is not ideal. In fact, our biggest procurement is coming from the UAE. As I speak to you now, it is held up in a situation only diplomacy will resolve. We were talking to them last week; the Nigerian minister of defence actually had a meeting with the ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, and the idea is to resolve this so that the equipment held up will be released. We need them here.

“So all these procurements are ongoing; nothing you can buy on the shelf. NSA did not make accusations of misappropriation, because there is none in dealing with this matter”. 

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