Switzerland Signs Contract For 36 US Fighter Jets

In this file photo taken on 20 June 2022, Brandenburg, Schönefeld, an Italian Armed Forces F-35 fighter aircraft flies over the grounds of the ILA International Aerospace Exhibition.  (Photo by WOLFGANG KUMM / DPA / dpa Picture-Alliance via AFP)

 

Switzerland signed a controversial contract on Monday to buy 36 US F-35 stealth fighter jets at a cost of more than six billion francs ($6.2 billion).

“National Armaments Director Martin Sonderegger and the Swiss F-35A Program Manager Darko Savic signed the procurement contract on 19 September 2022 at armasuisse in Bern,” said armasuisse, the country’s arms procurement agency.

“With this, the procurement of 36 F-35A is contractually agreed,” it added.

The selection of the F-35 by the Swiss government in June 2021 sparked some controversy, particularly in light of the cost-overruns of the fighter programme in the United States.

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But a Swiss parliamentary investigation did not call into question the selection of the fighter.

The Swiss government and parliament also short-circuited holding a referendum on the plane’s purchase despite enough signatures being collected to put the issue to voters, saying there was not enough time to do so before manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s offer expires.

But Swiss voters had already narrowly approved in September 2020 spending six billion Swiss francs to replace the country’s fleet of ageing F/A-18 Hornets and F-5 Tigers.

The F-35s will be delivered between 2027 and 2030.

Switzerland joins a growing number of European countries which have opted for the stealth multi-role combat aircraft, including Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Poland.

AFP

Presidency Blames Bishop Kukah, Others For Delay In Delivery Of Tucano Jets

'It's Jealousy': Garba Shehu Faults PDP's Comments On Niger Governors’ Visit
A file photo of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

 

The Presidency has criticized government opponents for influencing the perception of the United States government of Nigeria which is believed to have led to delays in the supply of fighter jets to the country to boost the fight against insecurity.

According to a statement issued on Sunday by Presidential Spokesman Garba Shehu, one of those opponents includes the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah.

In the statement titled: ‘Predicting Nigeria’s Collapse Is A Perennial Pursuit Of US Think Tanks And Policy Experts’, Shehu maintained that the clergyman provided quotes from a book written by former US Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, which the Presidency observed do not suggest much improvement in the country.

But despite previous predictions of coups in the country, democracy has remained unbroken for the past 29 years.

Read Full statement below.

Predicting Nigeria’s Collapse Is A Perennial Pursuit Of Us Think Tanks And Policy Experts

In 2005, a US National Intelligence Council paper ‘Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa’s Future’ floated the idea there could be a military coup in Nigeria. At the time this was hardly an earth-shattering prediction: 2005 was only six years after the return of civilian democratic rule and just over a decade since the Abacha military coup of 1993 – the final of seven coups since independence.

However, for the last 29 years – close to a generation – there have been none. Since the return of democracy in 1999 there have been six general elections, four elected presidents, four transfers of power – including one in 2015 between the winning opposition candidate and the losing incumbent president seeking re-election.

Yet despite all the evidence to the contrary, the collapse predictors keep doubling down on their bets.

Most recently retired former US Ambassador to Nigeria 2004-7 John Campbell has updated his book, of which the first edition said: “While Nigerians often claim they are masters of dancing on the brink without falling off, the disastrous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the radical Islamic insurrection Boko Haram, and escalating violence in the delta and the north may finally provide the impetus that pushes it into the abyss of state failure”.

It didn’t of course, quite the opposite: Jonathan was defeated at the 2015 general election with power peacefully transferring to the victor, President Muhammadu Buhari.

Campbell is always more careful than others who openly claim their predicted collapse is just around the corner. Still, it is always there, as innuendo: “I have never predicted the breakup of Nigeria because I have never thought it would happen.

But, were it to do so, the likely consequence would be a humanitarian disaster” – said Campbell in a blog post in 2012 for the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think-tank.

That same CFR is now publishing the new edition of Campbell’s book. It seems unlikely the conclusion will be that Nigeria is improving on any measure as – for international Nigeria watchers – there seems little that can ever be found to suggest it is.

Yet the people of Nigeria – the majority of which were born after the last coup of 1993 – and who have known nothing their whole lives except democracy and elected government are the living proof that democracy is here to stay.

Though often negative, Campbell does however consistently express an important view that it is in the interests of the United States to encourage democracy and security in Nigeria. The government of Nigeria concurs. It is a pity therefore that US policy and support towards our country, including during the Buhari administration, has been so inconsistent.

In 2015 the then newly-elected Buhari government requested US military support in the form of Super Tucano jet fighters for the Nigerian Air Force.

The Nigerian military, security, and intelligence services repeatedly made this request.

The US administration of the time concurred: the delivery of such jets would help deliver a critical turning point in Nigeria’s struggle against jihadist terrorists across the Sahel.

Yet two years later, that jet delivery was rescinded, the reasons given that unless Nigeria improved its religious relations between Christianity and Islam then US support would not be forthcoming in this, and many other areas.

Such views were compounded by the constant lobbying of US Congress by the opponents of the Nigerian government who had lost the previous election, and many of their southern religious supporters – including Bishop Mathew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto who, unsurprising, provides a supportive quote for the dustcover of the new edition of Campbell’s book. (Kukah even took to addressing the US Congress himself, briefing his audience on the history of coups in Nigeria – without, of course, mentioning that none had occurred since 1993, some 29 years ago).

Fortunately, now today under a new US administration these jets have been delivered, and with it, a serious blow against the terrorists – with the supreme leader of Islamic State in West Africa and scores of other leaders of the group eliminated in airstrikes.

It is all very well to claim it is in the United States’ interests to help Nigeria become an even-better democracy and stable country. It is quite another to forever avoid mentioning the last coup was 29 years ago, and that since 1999 Nigeria has enjoyed 23 unbroken years of democratically elected governments and peaceful transition between them.

It is also inconsistent to preach the need for stability but needlessly delay sharing military equipment in the form of jets – not least when it is now proven they would have helped Nigeria much earlier defeat the terrorists who threaten our country. Hopefully, the United States and Nigeria are going to forge ahead with our continuing partnership in fighting terrorism in and out of the sub-region.

The dream of our founding fathers of a strong, united and prosperous Nigeria remains very much intact.

NAF Reactivates Nine F-7 Fighter Jets, Expects Delivery Of Additional Ones

 

The Nigerian Airforce is set to take delivery of additional fighter jets including a new multi-role fighter aircraft, the ‘3 JF-17 fighter’, and eight other Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) from the Peoples Republic of China.

The Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar disclosed this on Tuesday during an operational visit in Makurdi, Benue State capital to assess the ongoing reactivation work on the F-7 Aircraft.

He explained that nine fighter jets are also being reactivated in order to sustain the onslaught against insurgents.

Also in a series of Tweets, Director of Public Relations and Information Headquarters Nigerian Air Force Nigeria, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola said Nigeria has joined China and UAE as the only countries operating the WingLoong II Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle.

He adds that “in the last five years, 22 brand new aircraft have been acquired and 19 more are expected before mid-2021. Six other UCAVs are also expected by early 2021.”

Air Commodore Daramola adds that “200 NAF pilots, engineers, and technicians are undergoing training in nine different countries as part of efforts to bridge decades of gaps in capability and capacity that have made Nigeria vulnerable to asymmetrical threats.

The additional new air assets and skills acquired by personnel are aimed to enhance Nigeria Air Force’s operational effectiveness.

NAF Intensifies Search For Ghana/ISIS Group In Benue State

Nigerian Air Force, Bombing, BornoThe Nigerian Air Force, on Thursday launched a seven day air surveillance and bombardment operation code-named “Operation Smoke Out”.

The operation is to check the activities of wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza and possible existence of ISIS/Boko Haram group in Benue state, as recently announced by the Department of State Services.

The Air Officer Commanding of the Tactical Air Command, Air Vice Marshal, Nurudeen Balogun, said there are no official intelligence on the existence of ISIS/Boko Haram in Benue state, Operation Smoke Out, is targeted at all known criminal elements involved in the Zaki Biam killings and the ISIS group if it exists.

The Air Officer listed Agatu, Katsina Ala and Zaki- Biam in Benue state as well as Wukari in Taraba state as the flash points for the operation, the operations will include other security agencies, while the Benue state government tasked indigenes on intelligence sharing.

The Air Officer briefs journalist on the component of the operation said,

“We are working with other security agencies to make sure we put a stop to this menace and so some air assets including, aisle assets and gunships and some fighter airplanes will be operating in the next seven days, conducting intensive operations, both day and night to make sure that we solve the problems”.

Governor Samuel Ortom who was represented by his Special Adviser on Sports and Youth Development, Professor Jonathan Uever, expressed confidence in the military to end the Benue violence.

“The Benue state government has a lot of confidence in the operations of the military and with the briefs we have received from the Air Officer Commanding, we know that it is going to be well and the people will sleep with their eyes closed, especially in the areas they showed us that they will carry out the operations”.

The Air Officer Commanding said, although there are no official report of ISIS/Boko Haram cell in Benue, the operation is designed to root out all criminal elements.

The acting commanding officer of the 101 Air Defense Group, Mohammed Baba-Ari, in a briefing with pilots and mission commanders, listed key troubled areas like Agatu, Katsina Ala, Zaki Biam and Wukari forest in Taraba state.

“The major restive areas include Agatu, Zaki Biam, Katsina Ala and Logo local government areas among others. Also a forest stretching between Benue and Taraba states is the suspected enclave for the vandals perpetrating these acts”.

The Operation Smoke Out follows last weeks approval by the Chief of Air Staff, to commence counter terrorism operations with air power in a joint security operation with ground troops of other sister agencies.

Nigerian Air Force Repels Boko Haram Attack In Kangarwa

Nigerian Air Force, Boko Haram, KangarwaThe Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has repelled an attack by the Boko Haram terrorists on its ground troops at Kangarwa in northern Borno State.

Following the report of the attack, three fighter jets and a reconnaissance aircraft were immediately deployed for the operation.

A statement by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, revealed that the troops averted the attack on Sunday.

The statement reads in part:

“While the fighter aircraft were scrambled to repel the attack, the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft was deployed to give guidance to ground troops on the position equipment and strength of the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs).

“The operation which started at about 1700 hours (5pm) continued till late evening at about 1915 hours (7:15pm) before the attack was successfully repelled.

“Before repelling the attack at Kangarwa, the NAF also conducted a number of day and night operations yesterday.

“The air interdiction missions were aimed at decimating the operational capability of the insurgents.

“The operations were carried out at Kashimeri, Tumbu Gini, Chukugudu and other BHT strongholds from where the insurgents launch attack on Bama and neighbouring settlements”.

Military Battles Boko Haram Near Bauchi

Boko Haram Attack GombeNigerian troops on Sunday engaged scores of Boko Haram fighters in a fire fight near the city of Bauchi, North East Nigeria.

The AFP reports that Soldiers supported by two fighter jets intercepted the militants who were in 20 pick-up trucks at Dungulbe village, seven kilometres from the city, and engaged them in fierce fighting.

The Bauchi battle comes after militants attacked polling stations in Gombe and Yobe States on Saturday, killing at least 11 people.

A resident who fled to Bauchi said the terrorists arrived in Dungulbe village around 10:00 am and set up camp in preparation for an attack on Bauchi.

The militants were believed to have come through the town of Alkaleri. The gunmen in several vehicles attacked public buildings and security checkpoints.

Bauchi State police spokesman, Haruna Mohammed, was quoted to have said that gunmen also attacked some polling stations and destroyed ballot boxes in Bauchi on Sunday.