Nigeria receives six warplanes from US to fight insurgency

A Super Tucano aircraft on display during a defense fair at Brasilia's Air Base in 2012
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Nigeria has received six of 12 turboprop light attack aircraft from the United States to help fight mounting insecurity, its airforce said.

Africa's most populous nation faces several security crises, including a 12-year-old jihadist insurgency in the northeast, herder-farmer clashes in the centre, kidnapping for ransom in the northwest and separatist agitations in the south.

In August 2017, the administration of then president Donald Trump agreed to sell to Nigeria 12 A-29 Super Tucanos, built in the US by Sierra Nevada Corporation and its Brazilian partner, Embraer Defense and Security.

"The first batch of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft have arrived in Kano today," Nigeria Airforce spokesman Edward Gabkwet said in a statement late Thursday. He later told AFP that six out of 12 had arrived.

The planes are part of a deal that includes supplying the Nigerian armed forces with ammunition, training and aircraft maintenance, according to a US official.

In 2018, specialist website, defenceWeb, said the sale was worth $329 million (279 million euros). It said associated weaponry, including guided bombs and rockets, might be acquired under separate contracts.

The sale was initially unveiled in May 2016 but the administration of former president Barack Obama froze the deal just before handing over to Trump, after the Nigerian military accidentally bombed a camp for people displaced by the conflict in the northeast, killing 112 civilians.

Boko Haram, and rival offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province have killed at least 40,000 people and forced more than two million people from their homes since 2009.

The violence has spread to parts of neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the jihadists.

The Super Tucano is already used in Brazil, for border patrols, and in a dozen other air forces including in Afghanistan, Colombia and Indonesia.

On Sunday, the air force said it had lost an Alpha Jet, a European-made trainer and light attack plane built in the 1970s and 80s, after it came under fire from criminal gangs in Zamfara state in the northwest of the country.

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