WASHINGTON The US State Department has approved the sale of 12 AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters for nearly $1 billion, apparently after US lawmakers had lifted objections to human rights concerns.
On Thursday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the sale of the helicopters and defense systems to the Nigerian military. The package, which includes $25 million for human rights training.
The sale includes the Bell-made Cobras, 28 General Electric-made T700-401C engines, and 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems used to convert unguided missies into precision-guided missiles, as well as night vision, targeting and navigation systems.
The case highlights the Biden administration's attempts to.
In July, the president and the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee delayed the sale due to concerns about Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's tendency towards autoritarianism. The country is experiencing several consequences, including terrorism.
During the diplomat's testimony before the panel last year, Chairman of committee Bob Menendez, D-N.J., told Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "Nigeria requires a fundamental rethinking of our overall engagement."
Menendez said, however, that "the Nigerian government must get serious about security" after Boko Haram kidnapped more than 300 schoolboys in December 2020. In 2019, the Nigerian government fled against the Democratic Party, after arresting one of his supporters, Nigerian-American journalist Omoyele Sowore.
According to the announcement, $25 million will be allocated to Nigeria's military for continuing its Air-to-Ground Integration program, which focuses on international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict.
"This sale will help Nigeria to achieve shared security goals, promote regional stability, and enhance interoperability with the United States and other Western partners," said the author. "This sale will be a significant contribution to the United States and Nigeria's security goals."
Defense News' Joe Gould is a senior Pentagon reporter who covers the intersection of national security policy, politics, and the defense industry.
Bryant Harris is the reporter for Defense News, which covers foreign policy and national security in Washington since 2014. He previously wrote for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English, and IPS News.