The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, on Monday said it had acquired and renovated five additional air craft to fight insurgency and other crimes in the country.
The Chief of Air Staff, CAS, Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this at the Fourth Quarter 2017 CAS conference with the Branch Chiefs, Air Officer Commanding, AOCs, Field Commanders, among others at its Headquarters in Abuja.
Mr Abubakar, Air Marshal, said the aim of the conference was to appraise progress made in NAF since the end of the Third Quarter held in Kaduna State in September.
The CAS said further that the reason for the conference was also to obtain ideas from the bottom to the top, toward moving the service forward.
He explained that to enable the service carry out its mandate, of protecting the country, NAF had trained a number of pilots and had already been deployed for operational duties.
“A female pilot, for the first time in the history of NAF, was on the way to the United States Air Force for training as a fighter pilot.
“Having graduated as the overall best pilot during ab-initio training at 401 Flying Training School Kaduna State,” he said.
Mr Abubakar explained further that for the service to carry out its professional duties, NAF had also activated additional platforms which had been deployed for operations in the North-East.
“One Bell 412 Helicopter had been activated, while work on the second one would be completed before end of December.
“One Mi-35P Helicopter is being reactivated and should be ready for operation by January 2018 ending.
“The overhauled engines needed for the reactivation had already arrived in Nigeria. The reactivation is being done locally to further build the capacity of NAF technical personnel as well as saving cost,” he said.
The CAS added that foreign technical experts had been invited to execute the project in conjunction with NAF engineers and technicians.
Mr Abubakar said the two additional Mi-35M helicopters recently procured for NAF by the Federal Government had been test flown in Russia and should be operational in Nigeria by February 2018.
He said a total of five combat helicopters were being added to NAF counter-insurgency efforts.
“The Periodic Depot Maintenance, PDM, of C-130H Aircraft had commenced in Lagos State, also being done locally by foreign technical experts with NAF personnel for capacity building.
“Similarly, the Service life of C-130H aircraft NAF 913 has been successfully extended. The foregoing efforts are to boost the strategic and operational airlift capability of NAF,” he said.
The CAS said further that the NAF air operations in the North-East had been reorganised for increased efficiency.
He added that the Air Component Commander had been replaced with a Commander, Air Task Force, an Air Vice Marshal, who reports to the Theatre Commander.
He said NAF had also appointed three Divisional Air Liaison Officers, DALO, for the Nigerian Army’s 3 Armourer Division well as 7 and 8 Divisions in the North-East.
He said the whole idea was to ensure a better coordination of air efforts with ground operations. The NAF has also appointed an Air Liaison Officer for the Theatre Command to further limit the possibility of gaps in operations.
“In the area of Force Protection, NAF has trained some of its Regiment personnel as additional Special Forces and deployed them to the North-East for operations alongside other surface forces.
“NAF has graduated the second set of participants from its Air War College in Makurdi, Benue, the graduates are expected to add value to the Service in general and in operational activities,” he said.
The CAS enjoined the senior officers to be frank in their contributions, identify challenges and proffer ways of moving the NAF forward.