US green lights Nigerian AH-1Z purchase

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced government approval for a potential foreign military sale to Nigeria of a dozen AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. The decision was reported on April 14, the DSCA stating that it had also notified Congress about the possible deal that day.

USMC AH-1Z Viper
US Marine Corpa AH-1Z Viper (BuNo 169498 ‘HF-71’) from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 (HMLA-269) 'The Gunrunners' lands at Lamar, Colorado, on November 3, 2021, during cold-weather, high-altitude training. The US has approved sale of 12 AH-1Zs to Nigeria. USMC/Lance Cpl Elias E Pimentel II

The estimated total cost would be $997m, including associated equipment. Among the systems that would be included in the deal, the DSCA lists 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guidance sections, M197 20mm machine guns, electronic warfare systems, AN/AVS-9 Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System, Night Vision Cueing Display (NVCD), four spare T-700-GE-401C engines, and spares, plus support equipment and training.

Nigeria has been showing interest in purchasing the AH-1Z for some time. However, until now it had been thwarted by US Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who had been opposing the sale since last July due to concerns over Nigeria’s human rights record.

No doubt in relation to this, the DSCA announcement states that $25m of case funds will be allocated for institutional and technical assistance to the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) to continue an Air Ground Integration (AGI) programme. The programme includes developing targeting processes that are legally compliant with International Humanitarian Law and the Laws of Armed Conflict.

If the order is confirmed, Nigeria will become the third country to place a firm order for the AH-1Z. The type has already been ordered by Bahrain and the Czech Republic.