Sierra Nevada is receiving $329 million (around N11.8 billion) for 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft for the Nigerian air force.
The total amount of the contract, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, is approved at $344.7 million to include Forward Looking Infrared Systems for six of the aircraft after the award.
Included with the order are spare parts, ground support equipment, and contractor and logistical support, with the work expected to run through May 2024. The action falls under foreign military sales, the Pentagon said.
The Embraer A-29 Super Tucano is a turboprop light attack plane in service with countries across the world. It is designed for counter-insurgency operations and close-air support in areas lacking significant air defences, and is also widely used as a training aircraft.
The aircraft can carry two .50 caliber machines guns internally in the wings, and a mixture of gun pods such as miniguns, rockets, guided missiles, bombs and sensor pods like the FLIR. It can loiter at low speed and altitude over a target area for hours in order to support ground troops.
Light planes like the Tucano can fulfill air support and surveillance needs in low-risk environments at a much lower operational cost than heavier jets like the A-10 or F-16 and require less flight and maintenance training.
They are highly vulnerable to advanced anti-aircraft weapons like man-portable surface-to-air missiles, but are meant to operate against enemies lacking sophisticated weaponry.
Insurgent groups like Boko Haram, which Nigeria has been battling, are typically armed with comparatively light weapons and vehicles and most times possess no air defence network.