The A-29 Super Tucano was built by a team headed by Sierra Nevada Corporation.
A study of the global demand for light attack aircraft may be unnecessary. One aircraft already appears on its way to dominating the market space. This is the A-29 Super Tucano. The sturdy, propeller-driven Super Tucano is a perfect fit for the operational requirements, physical environments and budget limitations.
The Super Tucano is currently operated as a light attack/ISR platform by more than a dozen countries including Angola, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Mali, Mauritania, the Philippines, and Senegal.
The A-29 was built precisely for the kind of conflicts and operating environments relevant to current security challenges in Nigeria.
A-29 is a relatively simple, sturdy, propeller-driven aircraft, able to operate from austere airfields. However, the A-29 is equipped with advanced electro-optical sensors, modern avionics, a laser target designator, a 20mm cannon, two 12.7mm machine guns and the ability to carry a wide variety of munitions including precision-guided ordinance. One of the most effective weapons is BAE’s Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System, a 70mm laser-guided rocket with a three-foot miss distance.
The Super Tucano/A-29 is inexpensive to acquire and cheap to operate. The basic aircraft sells for about $10 million although the price rises to about $11 million with the addition of training and logistics support. The A-29 variant is estimated to cost between $20 and 30 million but this includes specialized equipment, spare parts and operational support. The Super Tucano costs around $1,000 a flying hour. The cost to operate for the A-29 is certainly higher given its more sophisticated avionics and mission systems, but even at twice the cost per flying hour of the Super Tucano, it is still a bargainfor budget.
A-29 is a versatile and powerful turboprop aircraft and is known for its rugged and durable design, which allows it to perform operations from unimproved runways and at forward operating bases in austere environments and rugged terrain. The A-29 is the only light attack aircraft in the world
A29 Super Tucano can be used flexibly for surveillance/light attack missions against insurgent groups or, armed with advanced anti-tank weapons and even take part in a higher end conflict.
It would be recalled that Embraer Defense & Security and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) in April 17, 2020 announced the first of 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack, combat and reconnaissance aircraft for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) successfully completed its inaugural flight at the production facility in Jacksonville, Florida.
The full fleet of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft for the NAF were said to be in production by SNC and Embraer at the Jacksonville facility with delivery to the NAF expected on schedule in 2021.
The NAF A-29 aircraft will now begin mission modification and final testing in Centennial, Colorado. Following final testing, before delivery, NAF pilots will train in the aircraft. “This is an exciting milestone in the production of these A-29s for the Nigerian Air Force.
The Jacksonville production line is active, and Embraer and SNC look forward to seeing these aircraft continue to roll off the line in the coming months,” says Jackson Schneider, president & CEO, Embraer Defense & Security.
“The aircraft met or exceeded all the requirements and we are very pleased with the successful flight,” stated Ed Topps, vice president of Tactical Aircraft Systems and programs for SNC’s IAS business area.
“SNC and our partner, Embraer, are certain the Nigerian Air Force will be pleased with these aircraft.” The combat-proven A-29 Super Tucano is the gold standard of light attack combat and reconnaissance aircraft around the world and is designed and built for the mission in Nigeria.
The A-29 Super Tucano is the most reliable and cost-effective solution for basic and advanced flight and combat training, close air support operations, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), armed over-watch, counterinsurgency and irregular warfare scenarios.
The aircraft has already been selected by 15 air forces around the world to deliver cost-effective close air support and reconnaissance capabilities. In December 2018, SNC and Embraer Defense & Security were awarded the contract to deliver 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to the Nigerian Air Force.
The contract for the NAF includes ground training devices, mission planning systems, mission debrief systems, spares, ground support equipment, alternate mission equipment, contiguous U.S. interim contractor support, outside of continental U.S. (OCONUS) contractor logistic support and field service representatives for OCONUS support.