The $600m Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano jets approved for sales to Nigeria by the United State Government, also named ALX or A-29, is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency, close air support, and aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments, as well as providing pilot training. Its features include Top speed: 593 km/h,Range: 4,820 km, Cruise speed: 520 km/h, Engine type: Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6, Manufacturer: Embraer
The State Department notified Congress late Wednesday of its plans to approve the sale. That triggered a 30-day review period in which lawmakers can try to block the sale. While several Democrats in particular have raised concerns, Congress is unlikely to stop the administration from proceeding.
John Campbell, a Nigeria scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations said concerns had receded somewhat as Nigeria has taken steps to address shortcomings, including granting the International Committee of the Red Cross access to some Nigerian detention facilities.
“There are signs of some progress,” Campbell said. Still, he said Nigeria had a “long way to go.”
If the sale goes forward, the U.S. will have to send employees or contractors to Nigeria to provide logistical support and train teams on how to use the aircraft. They also would provide guidance on international laws for protecting civilians, officials said.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been accused of bombing civilian targets several times in recent years. The State Department said in report last year that the Nigerian government has taken “few steps to investigate or prosecute officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, and impunity remained widespread at all levels of government”.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest consumer market, with 170 million people, and the continent’s second-largest oil producer. It is strategically located on the edge of the Sahel, the largely lawless semi-desert region bridging north and sub-Saharan Africa where experts warn of Islamic extremists expanding their reach. More than 20,000 have been killed and about 3 million displaced in Boko Haram’s insurgency since 2009, in which the extremist group has sought to enforce strict Islamic rule.