Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force has dismissed reports that the subsisting contractual agreement between the Federal Government and the United States for the supply of 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is in jeopardy due to “bad runway at the 407 Air Combat Training Group, Kainji.”
The NAF disclosed that six of the expected 12 aircraft had been produced and were presently being employed for conversion training of six NAF pilots who are in the US.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, said the utterances credited to the Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Air Force, Senator Mike Nnachi, while briefing the Senate Appropriation Committee on the 2021 NAF Budget proposal, were taken out of context.
The Senate Committee on Air Force had last Thursday said Nigeria stood the risk of losing $493m paid to the United States for the purchase of the Super Tucano fighter jets due to the bad runway at Kainji.
The FG had in 2018 wired $493m to the US for the purchase of the jets to tackle insurgency and other security challenges facing the country.
But reacting to the report, Daramola in the statement titled, ‘A-29 Super Tucano aircraft projection on course for delivery as scheduled,’ said the jets would land on Nigerian soil as scheduled and in accordance with the terms of the contract.
It read, “For the avoidance of doubt, 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, six of the expected 12 aircraft have been produced and are presently being employed for conversion training of six 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, NAF explained that the 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 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.”