The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has flayed reports in some sections of the media that the subsisting contractual agreement between the Nigerian Government and the United States of America (USA) for the supply of 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is in jeopardy due to “bad runway” at the 407 Air Combat Training Group (407 ACTG), Kainji.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Monday, said the Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Air Force, Senator Mike Nnachi, while briefing the Senate Appropriation Committee on the 2021 NAF Budget proposal, were clearly taken out of context.
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It would be recalled that the Senate Committee on Air Force had last week Thursday stressed that Nigeria stood the risk of losing $493m paid to the United States for the purchase of Super Tucano fighter jets due to the nation’s runway which at the moment was not up to the standard and could not carry the fighter jets.
Daily Trust reports that the federal government had wired in $493m in 2018 to a US company for the purchase of the jets to tackle insurgency and other security challenges facing the country.
Super Tucanos to land on schedule
Reacting to the report, Daramola maintained in the statement that the jets would land on Nigerian soil as scheduled and in accordance with the Terms of the Contract, adding that 6 of the expected 12 aircraft have been produced and are presently being employed for conversion training of 6 NAF pilots who are in the USA.
“For the avoidance of doubts, it is necessary to state that the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft project is on track to be delivered on schedule and in accordance with the Terms of the Contract.
“Currently, 6 of the expected 12 aircraft have been produced and are presently being employed for conversion training of 6 NAF pilots who are in the USA, along with 26 NAF engineers, technicians and logisticians, who are also undergoing various trainings on the aircraft as part of the provisions of the Contract.
“Another set of 35 personnel are also scheduled to join them early next year. In addition, a team from the USA is currently in Kainji overseeing the construction of critical infrastructure provided in the Contract ahead of the delivery of the aircraft,” the statement read.
407 ACTG Kainji Runway earmarked for resurfacing
The NAF spokesman further explained that the about 40-year old 407 ACTG Kainji Runway, which has been in use for more than the number of years estimated as its lifespan, has been earmarked for resurfacing.
He added, “In this regard, the National Assembly, through the Senate and House Committees on Air Force, as well as the Federal Government are working assiduously to secure funding for the resurfacing.
“The United States Government, on its part, has also assured of its commitment to delivering the 12 aircraft within the agreed timelines, while the NAF will continue to work to emplace necessary infrastructure to ensure that the aircraft can be effectively utilized immediately they arrive the Country.
“The NAF therefore wishes to appreciate both the Senate and House Committees on Air Force and other agencies of the Federal Government for their continued support that has enabled the Service to fulfill its constitutional roles.
“Similarly, the NAF is grateful to the United States Government for its support and commitment towards ensuring the success of the Super Tucano project.”