Sunday, 13 November 2016

US blocks Nigeria's purchase of fighter jet

– The US has prevented Nigeria from buying fighter jets from Brazil 

– This sis similar to the arms blockade during the Goodluck Jonathan administration

 – Nigeria has turned to Russia to purchase the newest fighter helicopter

The United States has prevented the President Muhammadu Buhari administration from acquiring the A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft from Brazil.

Punch reports that Nigeria was almost close to striking a deal with Brazil to acquire the fighter jet crucial in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram before the US stopped the transaction.

A presidency source revealed that the aircraft was produced by the US and sold to Brazil who were initially enthusiastic about selling to Nigeria but later became reluctant.

Nigeria has been working towards replacing the old fighter jets with the newer A-29 Super Tucano. Brazil which gets 99 per cent of its aircraft from the US needs it approval before they can be sold. Darrel Isah who is a US congressman had said after a meeting with service chiefs and defence authorities in the country in August 2015 that the US had commenced the process of relaxing the embargo on military assistance to the country under the Leahy Law.

 The law was first activated under the Goodluck Jonathan administration and prevented Nigeria from acquiring fighter jets due to human rights concern. The presidency source said the US was unhappy with the measures adopted against those accused of human rights abuse in the North-East. The source said: “The issue of the arms embargo against the country by the US is still in force. 

The US is helping in the area of training; they also have some of their platforms like the C130 which is so crucial in the campaign and operations of the military. “However, the surprising thing is that they have again prevented the country from acquiring A29, Super Tucano light attack aircraft from Brazil. “The US sold the aircraft to the Brazilians but they gave a condition that they could only be resold to other countries with the consent of the US. 

This means that Brazil must seek the permission of the US to sell. “The Brazilians were enthusiastic when they visited Nigeria and the impression we had was that they were ready to sell, provided the funds were available. “Curiously, they later developed cold feet because America started quoting human rights issues to block the deal. 

“The aircraft are unique because the plan was to use the A-29 Super Tucano, Fighter Ground Attack aircraft to replace the ailing Alpha jets. “The Alpha jets are old now; the Alpha jets and the MI helicopter gunships are the two major platforms deployed in the North-East.”

The blockade has forced Nigeria to look in other directions in the purchase of arms. Nigeria has already paid for 10 Super Mushak trainers from Pakistan which are expected to arrive by the first week of December. Also, plans had reached an advanced stage to bring in 12 MI 35M, one of the latest helicopter gunships from Russia. 

The pilots and technicians who were sent to Russia for training on the use of the sophisticated helicopters had completed training and had returned to the country to await the arrival of the equipment.

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