The United States Government has approved the sale of 12 AH-1Z Attack Helicopters and related equipment to Nigeria worth nearly $1 billion.
On Thursday, April 14, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the certification notifying Congress of the possible foreign military sale to the Government of Nigeria of AH-1Z Attack Helicopters and related equipment for an estimated $997 million.
According to the notice of the deal, Nigeria had requested to buy 12 Bell AH-1Z Attack Helicopters and related equipment including engines, communication equipment, electronic warfare systems, Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and guidance sections.
The deal also includes $25 million of case funds allocated for assistance to the Nigerian military to continue the air-ground integration program.
The program aims at minimising civilian casualties in air operations and involves developing targeting processes that are compliant with International Humanitarian Law and the Laws of Armed Conflict.
The AH-1Z will expand the Nigerian Air Force rotary-wing close air support, armed escort, reconnaissance, and fire support capabilities in the northeast which were largely undertaken by the Russian built MI-35M gunships.
The Nigerian Government has kept the deal for the U.S. manufactured aircraft under the radar despite a Foreign Policy report in July 2021 which revealed that top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had paused the proposed sale to Nigeria.
The country’s Minister of Information Lai Mohammed subsequently denied the deal stating that there was no contract of arms between Nigeria and the United States apart from the 12 Super Tucano attack deal. The aircraft has since been delivered and inducted into air operations.
The first public confirmation of the AH-1Z sale was contained in the details of the remarks made by the Nigerian officials and the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken at the signing ceremony for the development assistance agreement at the Aso Villa in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.
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