The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has confirmed the sale of the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter to Nigeria, with a related contract notification posted on 19 December.
Having approved the sale of 12 helicopters in April 2022, Nigeria’s procurement was confirmed with the announcement that Northrop Grumman had been awarded a USD7.7 million contract modification “for the production and delivery of an additional 32 H-1 tech refresh mission computers in support of the AH-1Z aircraft for the government of Nigeria”. The proposed deal included 28 T-700 GE 401C engines, 2 000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guidance sections, M197 20 mm guns, sighting systems, night vision equipment, technical and logistics support. Work on this contract is expected to be completed by June 2024.
Nigeria’s total AH-1Z procurement was estimated by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) to be valued at USD997 million, and comprised the helicopters, related equipment, spares, weapons, training, and support.
Nigeria had earlier expressed interest in procuring the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. However, the the business was deferred due to issues regarding potential human rights violations by the Nigerian authorities. During the tenure of President Barack Obama, the United States curtailed arms sales to Nigeria. Conversely, the ascension of President Donald Trump to office in 2016 marked a shift in policy. The Trump administration consented to the sale of 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to Nigeria. These aircraft, which are produced by the Sierra Nevada Corporation within the United States, have subsequently been utilized by Nigeria in its efforts against terrorist factions.
Besides the AH-1Zs, the Nigerian Army is acquiring 12 MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters from MD Helicopters, and in November last year received the first of six T-129 ATAK helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries.