The U.S. State Department has approved a possible sale of A-29 Super Tucanos to Nigeria.
On August 3, 2017, the State Department announced that it had approved the sale of 12 A-29 Super Tucanos to Nigeria, with an estimated value of $593 million. The proposed sale includes training, spares, and associated equipment.
The Congress was formally notified of the sale’s approval the previous day.
The statement announcing the potential sale noted, “These aircraft will support Nigerian military operations against terrorist organizations Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa, and Nigerian efforts to counter illicit trafficking in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.
“Nigeria is an important partner in the U.S. national security goal to defeat ISIS, including its branches in Africa, and this sale is part of the U.S. commitment to help Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries in that fight,” the statement added.
The sale’s approval does not mean that it has been concluded. Now that the Congress has been formally notified, lawmakers may seek to block it, though such actions are rare.
Two months ago, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) wrote to the State Department to state their concerns about the potential deal. They wrote, “We are writing to convey our concerns regarding reports that you intend to proceed with plans to sell A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircrafts, with mounted machine guns and related parts and logistical support, to help the Nigerian government combat Boko Haram.”
The senators requested of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “We request that before you approve this sale, you brief us on the steps Nigeria has taken to investigate and hold accountable those that have committed human rights abuses. We believe the security threats Nigeria is facing are very real but that a sale of this nature, and at this time, is ill-advised.”
It is unclear if the State Department provided those details. One of the demands of the senators was for Nigeria to complete an investigation into an accidental bombing of a displaced persons camp in Rann in January 2017.
The military announced the completion of the investigation in July 2017, saying that the camp had not been marked on operational maps and promising that in the future such camps would be marked to avoid a repeat of the bombing, which over a hundred dead. Doctors Without Borders, however, said in response, “The… camp was controlled and registered by the military in the state of Borno.”