The United States Government has said the implementation of its proposed sale of 12 AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria will require the deployment of three of its representatives or those of the contractors to reside in the country for two years for the purposes of training and logistics.
The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, on Thursday, said in a statement on its website titled, ‘Nigeria – AH-1Z Attack Helicopter Related FMS Acquisitions’, that the notice of the potential sale was required by law and that Congress had been notified of the possible transaction.
It said the State Department had “made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale to the Government of Nigeria of AH-1Z attack helicopter related FMS acquisitions and related equipment for an estimated cost of $997m.”
The statement named the principal contractors as Bell Helicopter, Textron, Fort Worth, TX; and General Electric Company, Lynn, MA, saying the proposed sale would better equip Nigeria to contribute to shared security objectives, promote regional stability and build interoperability with the US and other western partners.
On the need to deploy representatives of either the US government or the contractors in Nigeria, the statement partly read, “Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of US Government or contractor representatives to Nigeria for mobile training teams and contract logistics support.
“The case will include special training on the law of armed conflict and human rights, and air-to-ground integration to minimise civilian harm in air operations. This proposed sale will also require multiple trips by US Government and contractor representatives to participate in programme and technical reviews plus training and maintenance support in the country, on a temporary basis, for a period of five years.
“It will also require approximately three contractor support representatives to reside in the country for a period of two years to support this programme.”
Meanwhile, the statement pointed out that the cost of the equipment could eventually reduce, depending on certain variables, adding, “The description and dollar value is for the highest estimated quantity and dollar value based on initial requirements. Actual dollar value will be lower depending on final requirements, budget authority, and signed sales agreement(s), if and when concluded.”
Security experts hail move
Some security experts, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, hailed the proposed acquisition, saying it could be a game-changer in the onslaught against terrorists. They said it would also enhance the capability of the military to deal decisively with the bandits-turned-terrorists, especially since the authorities appeared unwilling to deploy the Super Tucano jets against them.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale includes the Bell-made Cobras; 28 General Electric-made T700-401C engines (24 installed, four spares); 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System used to convert unguided missiles into precision-guided missiles; M197 20mm machine gun; Night Vision Cueing Display; commercial variant GPS with Standard Positioning Service; communication equipment; electronic warfare systems; AN/AVS-9 Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System and targeting and navigation systems. It also includes $25m for institutional and technical assistance to the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Reports had indicated that the US State Department approved the sale of military hardware to Nigeria after lawmakers lifted their objections over human rights concerns.
An intelligence and security risk management consultant, Kabir Adamu, noted that the nature of the threat elements in Nigeria required air capability that was ideal for urban warfare and precision-style interdiction attacks.
“These two requirements can be met by combat helicopters. This is in addition to meeting the requirement for rapid response as part of a light force capability that all modern military and security forces should have. I, therefore, welcome this acquisition and see it as a possible game-changer in the current conflict dynamics in the country,” he stated.