Old Habbits Die Hard : Nigeria Pays Half a Billion Dollars for 12 Turboprop Aircraft.

The Nigerian government has paid the United States government $496 million for the acquisition of 12 Super Tucano fighter jets to be used by the Nigerian Air Force in the ongoing military operations against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east.

The Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd.), made the revelation Monday at the special town hall meeting held for the military and security agencies in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Dan-Ali said with the payment of the money, the U.S. government will deliver the jets as soon as possible, after accepting the letter requesting the sale of the bomber aircraft.

The Defence Minister, who insisted that the capacity of Boko Haram insurgents to carry out attacks had been completely neutralised, said U.S. President Donald Trump had commended Nigeria’s military strength when they met at a recent security meeting in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking on the decimation of the insurgents, the minister said: “Gone are the days when our soldiers dropped their rifles and started running from the war front. Our gallant troops have successfully degraded the Boko Haram insurgents.

 

Now while this might be a welcome gesture from the technical point, from a fiscal point it makes no sense. This assumes that low level asymmetric warfare is the only threat Nigeria will face in the immediate and long term future.

What happens when an unidentified and possibly hostile aircraft enters Nigerian airspace, leading to a situation that requires the NAF to make visual contact and confirm the enemy’s identity, then you have no choice but to get close to them.

What will the NAF do in such a scenario, send a propeller driven plane to intercept ? If the intruding aircraft is hostile and refuses to quit Nigerian airspace or land, the NAF will have no choice but to engage the aircraft in a dogfight.

If the enemy aircraft is a 4th generation fighter jet, like it most certainly will, the Super Tucano will be at a big disadvantage here. The pilot of a 4th generation aircraft has a fighting chance of surviving a missile attack.

If sensor systems and the pilot react quickly, an incoming missile can be avoided, often by diving toward the missile at supersonic speed, dispensing chaffs and radical maneuvering.

The pilot of a slow,unmaneuverable and thinly protected A-29 Super Tucano stands no chance in hell of coming out of that engagement alive. I mean..c’mon, its no brainer. if i can get you into the best of my flight envelope bang you are dead.

The fact is that the A-28 Super Tucano is completely unsuited for air combat. Its only good for low level COIN (Counter Insurgency ) operation. Air combat should be the cornerstone of a serious airforce.  You either have an airforce, or you don’t.

This new strike aircraft was supposed to replace 15 Chengdu F-7N Airguard, a single engine high speed interceptor that was as a stop-gap measure in 2005 for a quarter of a billion dollars. But Nigeria loves the fire brigade approach to its security,  and as such the NAF sought systems and mission parameters rather than performance as a target.

WAKE UP Nigeria – this is a political boondoggle of the highest order. It’s fiscally irresponsible at a time of economic challenges and not a good investment or a very reliable fighter

Put the cost of this plane in perspective. : $500 million.

With $500 million Nigeria can buy a complete squadrons of MiG-29 Fulcrums and close to a squadron of Sukhoi SU-35 Flankers. But instead, we’re stuck with a heap of junk…that’s as fast as the flames consuming the engines, flies like a brick, outmaneuvers like a turtle, an airplane that will never meet the operational requirement for defending Nigeria’s 927,000 kilometres territory.

We could as well have acquired a flotilla of more F-7 N interceptor and Alpha jets The Alpha jet is a proven aircraft in a given flight envelope and can do the low alt combat support roll the A-29 Super Tucano was acquired to do.

Two Squadron of the F-7N Airguard will greatly enhance the capability of the NAF to provide strategic defense for Nigeria’s airspace. This 1950 designed plane may be outdated, but at least the kinetic data puts its maneuverability (with a combat load) on par with the some 4th generation fighters.

It’s fast enough to flee a high threat area, because a plane that can’t run away is nothing but a flying coffin if sent into contested airspace, and this overweight under powered turkey sure can’t, won’t last long.

 

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