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In an economy where a common Nigerian lives below one dollar per day, buying a unit of aircraft or a piece of defence equipment worth over 200 million dollars look outrageous, but when we examine the negative impacts and catastrophic effects which forces such as Islamic insurgency, civil wars and proxy wars have wrecked stable states around the world, the dire need to shore up our defence is reaffirmed and hence, the need for a level of investment in the outdated Nigerian defence ministry.
Like other African powers such as Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, and South Africa that boast of Aircrafts such as; F-16, Mig-23, SU-24, SU-25, Jas-39. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is the air arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces. It is one of the largest in Africa, consisting of about 10,000 personnel and aircraft including 12 Chinese Chengdu F-7s, and 11 Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jets, armed helicopters, and military transport aircraft.
Nigeria penned a deal for a mixed haul of Mi-35M and Mi-171Sh Terminator helicopters with the Russians in Sept 2014. Mi-35 (Super hind) and its presence in the Sambisa forest does tilt the fight against the Boko haram terrorists on the side of the Nigerian Army. With the war against insurgency being far from over, President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing forward with plans to sell up to a dozen aircrafts to Nigeria’s Air force for the fight against the extremist group ‘Boko Haram’. Sources report that the deal could be worth up to $600 million (about N184 billion).
Former President Barack Obama’s administration originally agreed on the sale, but delayed it after humanitarian crisis incidents, including the Nigerian Air Force’s bombing of a refugee camp in January, a strike that killed 90 to 170 civilians.
A close look at Super Tucano A-29 aircraft, an agile, propeller-driven plane with reconnaissance and surveillance as well as attack capabilities, made by Brazil’s Embraer, is like a backward movement in air warfare technology though the aircrafts are recently produced.
In a country cultured with mismanagement and gross lack of maintenance, a clamour for a fifth generation aircraft in form of technology advancement is like stockpiling our home with open cans of fuel while we walk around, smoking.
A-29 is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency (COIN) measures. Its functions include providing close air support, Aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments, as well as providing pilot training. Designed to operate in high temperature and humidity conditions as well as extremely rugged terrain, the Super Tucano is highly maneuverable, has a low heat signature, and incorporates fourth-generation avionics and weapons system to deliver precision-guided munitions.
According to Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 2008-9, this is a close air support, manned aircraft with a pilot and sensor operator. It has a flight endurance of more than six hours, carries several sensors, can be armed with a heavy machine gun in each wing and has mounts for bombs, cannon and rocket pods. It can also be landed on an unimproved airstrip such as a road, refueled in minutes and sent right back into the fray.
EMBRAER EMB-314 SUPER TUCANO:
-wingspan 11.14 meters
-wing area 19.4 sq. meters
-length 11.42 meters
-height 3.9 meters
-empty weight 2,420 kg
-MTO weight 3,190 kg
-max speed (alt) 555kph
-take-off run 350 meters
-landing run 550 meters
-service ceiling 10,670m
-range, internal fuel 1,570 kilometers
Mr. Trump’s plan to move ahead with the Nigerian sale was first reported on Monday by the Associated Press.
The U.S. congressional source reported that Human rights concerns remain, despite support for the sale from some lawmakers.
Here are some questions to be asked about the anticipated deal;
1. Will Nigeria will be able to pay the full $600 million for the aircraft, equipment, training and support.
2. Has the Nigerian government and NAF effectively used the equipments they have in hand (resource management).
3. Not doubting the ability of Nigerian Army in combat, has the Nigerian government taken a look into other options in tactics and equipment? And are deals with other world powers and allies considered?
4. According to President Donald Trump, there is no deal as fair deal It’s either good or bad. This raises an immediate question. Are we getting a fair deal with the American since each unit of A-29 cost 10 - 16 million dollars?
There is no doubt that Nigeria needs investment in military and defence ministry much more than civilian population see a sense in it, but we must understand how much judicial are the use of these investments, and how much advancement, in-view both internal and external, we are considering before any large or small scale investment in the defence ministries in particular and for maintaining the security of the citizenry in general.