The U.S. will reportedly greenlight a U.S. $600 million sale of 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to Nigeria. As per the Military Times, Congress will receive a formal notification regarding the sale “within weeks.” Congress will have 30 days to block the sale, after which, Nigeria will ink contracts.
Nigeria intended to procure the Super Tucano to bolster its counterinsurgency (COIN) capabilities, but Washington – under then President Obama – held the sale back over concerns of Nigeria’s human rights record. A similar block had been placed on Bahrain’s request for F-16s, but as with that track, the Trump administration is putting Nigeria’s A-29 purchase into motion.
In February, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) announced that it will procure three surplus Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano aircraft from Brazil. Embraer said that there were still regulatory issues to be resolved, but assured Nigeria that the sale would proceed.
If finalized, the Super Tucano aircraft will join three JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighters supplied by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and 12 Mil Mi-35 assault helicopters from Russian Helicopters. Collectively, these acquisitions will mark a major modernization phase for the NAF.
The A-29 is a joint-venture between Brazil’s Embraer and Florida-based Sierra Nevada Corp to produce an armed version of the EMB-314 Super Tucano, a turboprop trainer.
The A-29 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68C turboprop engine; it has a maximum speed of 590 km/h, flight ceiling of 35,000 feet and payload of 1,500 kg split across five hardpoints. The A-29 can deploy laser-guided bombs, rockets and missiles, among other guided as well as unguided munitions.
Embraer-built EMB-314s have been sold in Sub Saharan Africa and Latin America, where they have seen use as COIN strike aircraft. Afghanistan is the most recent A-29 customer, it is currently using the aircraft in its COIN operations against the Taliban and other insurgencies.
Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp. are competing with IOMAX and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in the light attack aircraft space. IOMAX is seeing success with its Archangel platform, while TAI is progressing with developing its Hürkuş-C.