In what seems like the final onslaught against the insurgents and bandits, the military high command has concluded plans to deploy the recently purchased A-29 Super Tucano fighter Jets in the North-east and North-west, THISDAY has learnt.
This is coming as the federal government has repatriated 101 stranded Nigerians from Libya, including 22 family members of the slain members of the terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Investigation however revealed that the new jets delivered by the United States will be inducted on August 30, 2021 before their deployment for military operations.
THISDAY gathered that following the surrender of over 1,000 insurgents, plans are afoot to deploy the fighter planes and more troops in a final military offensive that is expected to bring the war to end.
The six fighter jets, part of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes ordered by the federal government, are designated for air interdiction while the remaining six, yet to be delivered, are for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
“The Tucanos will be deployed soon to strengthen ongoing operations, which are expected to conclude the war. More troops are also going to be deployed.
“The Tucano jets will bring their capabilities, precision strikes and other arsenals of the military”, a competent source told THISDAY.
It was further gathered that the attack planes would be deployed after the induction ceremony billed for August 30.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to be the special guest of honour.
The A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is armed with two wing-mounted 12.7mm machine guns with a rate of fire of 1,100 rounds a minute.
It is also capable of carrying general-purpose bombs and guided air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles.
“A-29s are turboprop planes armed with one 20mm cannon below the fuselage able to shoot 650 rounds per minute, one 12.7mm machine gun (FN Herstal) under each wing and up to four 7.62mm Dillion Aero M134 Miniguns able to shoot up to 3,000 rounds per minute,” the military source said.
Super Tucanos are also equipped with 70mm rockets, air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9L Sidewinder, air-to-ground weapons such as the AGM-65 Maverick and precision-guided bombs.
It can also be used as a laser rangefinder and laser-guided weapon.
THISDAY gathered that the aircraft is used by air forces of 15 countries.
Its integrated weapons and laser-firing technology enables the platform to lay down suppressive fire in support of advancing infantry and also pinpoint targets for precision strikes.
It also enables a wide sphere of operational possibilities to include counterinsurgency and great power challenges.
The pilot is protected with Kevlar armour and provided with a zero/zero ejection seat.
The clamshell canopy, hinged at the front and rear and electrically activated, is fitted with a de-icing system and features a windshield capable of withstanding, at 300k, the impact of a 4lb (1.81kg) bird.
A Northrop Grumman (aircraft manufacturing company) onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS) is installed.
When contacted on the deployment of the attack aircraft, Spokesman of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said there was no specific date for the deployment of attack planes.
“We have no specific date for the deployment”, he said
It would be recalled that the Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, last week declared that the military was poised for a final rout of insurgents in the North-east.
His declaration followed the surrender of 1,000 insurgents and their families to troops in the North-east.
One of the missing Chibok schoolgirls, a man she married in captivity, and her two children were also part of the families of those who surrendered to troops.
A statement issued by Army Spokesman, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, said the army chief affirmed the determination of the military to rout terrorists in the North-east.
“Law-abiding people of North-east Nigeria are assured of the Chief of Army Staff’s determination to finally rout the Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province criminals from their hideouts.
“The good people of the North- east are also encouraged to continue to avail the troops with actionable information that will enhance the execution of the ongoing counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in the region”, it said.
In another development, the federal government has repatriated 101 stranded Nigerians from Libya, including 22 family members of the slain members of the terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The repatriated Nigerians arrived in Abuja, on Friday, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Head of Media, Public Relations and Protocols, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abdur-Rahman Balogun, titled, ‘FG facilitates return of 101 stranded Nigerians.’
The returnees were received by officials of Ministry of Foreign Affairs; NIDCOM; Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); Department of State Services (DSS); Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Port Health.
The statement read, “The stranded Nigerians include the 22 family members of suspected former members of ISIS that were killed in Libya as well as their children.
“All evacuees came with Negative PCR test for Covid- 19, and landed at exactly 10.15 pm at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport GAT wing, aboard Air Force C130,” the statement explained.
Ejiofor Alike in Lagos and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja