The fight against Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group will move a notch higher as the six Super Tucano aircraft procured by the Federal Government would soon be at the disposal of the Nigeria Air Force.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Air Force to defend the force’s N142.4 billion 2021 budgetary allocation, stated that the fighter jets would be delivered to Nigeria from the U.S. before the second quarter of 2021.
The Super Tucano is capable of supporting basic and advanced flight and combat training, close air support operations, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), armed over-watch, counterinsurgency, and irregular warfare scenarios, among others.
Abubakar explained that the force has concluded arrangement to fix the Kainji runway ahead of the arrival of the fighter jets.
He said: “The Super Tucano aircraft is coming to Kainji. The runway in Kainji is not really in good shape for now. We will not want to contract the job out due to paucity of funds. But we have our civil engineers and outworks personnel that can be mobilised through direct labour to achieve repairs of that runway before the arrival of the Super Tucano in the second quarter of next year.”
The NAF chief disclosed that the force was also expecting additional 17 aircraft, in addition to the 22 aircraft already procured that are at the disposal of the force. He also said there were three other special mission aircraft at the disposal of the force under the deep blue project of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
He added that the force plans to expend N17 billion on procurement of three JF17 multi-role fighter aircraft from Pakistan; N650 million on procurement of arms and ammunition for various aircraft of the force and N150 million on procurement of small arms and ammunition.
He further explained that the force would spend N271 million on procurement of three unmanned aerial systems and associated accessories and N 1 billion on infrastructural development of newly established NAF, saying they form part of the N31.9 billion capital budget of the force in 2021.
The chairman of the committee, Mr Shehu Koko, who applauded the role played by NAF in tackling insurgency and other criminalities in the country, endorsed the usage of the 2020 budgetary allocation to the force and its 2021 budget.
The lawmaker also expressed satisfaction with the near-total release of the N26.9 billion 2020 budget of the NAF.
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