The hue and cry on the propriety of the Federal Government payment for 12 unit of A-29 Tuccano Super Fighter Jets without due consent from the National Assembly still remain a mystery in public discussions. Clear facts revealed that several terror groups are challenging Nigerians’ security and killing innocent civilians on daily basis; the Nigerian Army need better air support to dislodge these terror groups especially the Boko Haram from their entrenched hideouts; it is a fact that the Tuccano is cheaper and retained all capabilities of more advanced fighter jets avionics; the Tuccano are also designed and has been used for guerrilla warfare and low level fast attack operations in areas similar to the Northeast Nigeria terrains, which make them ideal for the current security challenges in Nigeria; and to top these, the aircrafts have one of the lowest operation costs in the industry –at less than $1000USD per flight hour.
Incredible credentials for a turboprop trainer converted for low-intensity combat operations, so why the challenges on the purchase. We have tried to assuage two major facts behind the obstreperous challenges of this payment of $496 million for 12 A29 Tuccano Super Fighter Jets by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Average costs of the Nigerian purchase for these jets remained the highest ever paid. The airframe cost of the Tuccano as paid by the Dominican Republic for training purposes was a mere $8m. Industrial facts put the costs of a Tuccano at about $12m for a fully equipped versions though recent American buys of Super Tuccano for Afghanistan have come out to between $20 and $30 million because of inflation, different equipment, the inclusion of long-lead spares, and other factors.
The Nigeria government paid a total of $496m for 12 aircrafts giving an average of $41.33m each. Discounting the fact that four of the order were filled for basic airframe suited for Pilot trainings, the average could go higher than $50m per aircraft. Experts reasoned that Nigeria could have purchased better equipment for the price we are currently expending on these Tuccanos.
Given the expediency of current security challenges in Nigeria and the attendant-growing spate of attacks in the country, the purchase of the Tuccano would have been a welcome idea if the jets will be available to join in the fray immediately. The delivery dates for these equipment by the American government is in 2020. The jets might not come into formal usage before the end of 2020 give need for training of pilots and tests of equipment before formal commissioning and deployment.
For a nation with a depressed economy fighting serious on-going battle with terrorists using current scarce resources to purchase equipment that might not come into service to aid current security onslaught could be “technically flawed”.