Embraer and Sierra Nevada performed the inaugural flight of the first Nigerian Air Force A-29 advanced training and light attack turboprop. The aircraft is part of an order for 12 units from the African country, announced in December 2018.
The planes are being produced at the Jacksonville facility, in Florida, and are scheduled to begin delivery in 2021. Before that, the Super Tucanos will undergo system modifications and final tests in Centennial, Colorado, where training will also be conducted with the pilots of the Nigerian Air Force.
“The aircraft met or exceeded all the requirements and we are very pleased with the successful flight,” stated Ed Topps, vice president of Tactical Aircraft Systems and programs for SNC’s IAS business area. “SNC and our partner, Embraer, are certain the Nigerian Air Force will be pleased with these aircraft.”
“This is an exciting milestone in the production of these A-29s for the Nigerian Air Force. The Jacksonville production line is active, and Embraer and SNC look forward to seeing these aircraft continue to roll off the line in the coming months, ”says Jackson Schneider, president & CEO, Embraer Defense & Security.
The EMB-314 Super Tucano was developed from the EMB-312 Tucano, Embraer’s training turboprop in the 1990s. The first flight occurred in 1999 and the aircraft entered service in 2004 by the Brazilian Air Force.
In all, the A-29 operates in 15 countries on tactical air support and reconnaissance missions in addition to advanced training. About 250 turboprop units have already been produced.
The sale of Super Tucano to Nigeria had to rely on the consent of the United States, which relaxed a moratorium on sales of military equipment to Nigeria. The African country’s main objective with the aircraft is to reinforce its fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram.
US support for the sale of the A-29 to Nigeria is part of the military aid program offered to countries fighting terrorist groups. It is the same situation with the turboprops used by Afghanistan and Lebanon, also negotiated by the Americans.