U.S. President Donald Trump has approved the sale of a dozen aircrafts to Nigeria to assist the West African country in its fight against Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram.
The deal will see the sale of 12 Super Tucano A-29 aircrafts, an agile and propeller-driven plane with reconnaissance, surveillance, and attack capabilities, reports Reuters.
The Super Tucano is made by Embraer of Brazil in partnership with the privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp of Sparks, Nevada, which operates a second production plant in Florida.
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The deal, which has been in the making for years now, is worth about $600 million for the sale of the aircrafts. Initially, the agreement was made under former U.S. President Barack Obama, but it was put on hold, following reports of impunity and widespread right abuses committed by the Nigerian military against civilians and terror suspects.
In January, no less than 90 people — many of them women and children — were killed in northeast Nigeria, when the Nigerian military claimed it had mistakenly bombed a camp for internally displaced people who had fled their homes following the Boko Haram crisis.
Still, President Trump has been clear about his intentions to support anti-terror wars overseas and boost defense spending by sanctioning the sale of military hardware to interested buyers.
In February, Nigerian officials hinted at the impending deal in a statement released following a phone call from Trump to President Buhari:
President Trump assured the Nigerian president of U.S. readiness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism, the statement said.
Reports say Congress will still have to formally approve the sale of the aircraft, although it is widely expected that the deal will move forward in a Republican-controlled legislature.
The Super Tucano aircraft is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT 6 engine and costs more than $10 million apiece. Industry experts say the price can go much higher depending on the configuration.
U.S. military sources, however, said the aircrafts that will be sold to Nigeria will carry a basic configuration.
The A-29 can be armed with two wing-mounted machine guns and can carry up to 1,550 kg of weapons. U.S. Air Force personnel described it as a “game-changer,” after it was deployed in Afghanistan in 2016.