The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday said it had acquired six brand new helicopters, to reinvigorate the nation’s air power. Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who made the disclosure in Abuja, said this was the first time in about 18 years that the NAF will be making such acquisition. Abubakar made the disclosure at the “winging” ceremony of 12 pilots, who will be deployed to boost the air component of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East, and other internal security operations across the country.
“This is the first time in about 18 years that we are acquiring six brand new helicopters for the air force,” the CAS said. According to the Air Chief, “This is quite significant in the sense that at least we are building capacity and making sure that we have the right number of qualified staff that will man these helicopters that have been acquired. “Human capacity is the most important.
You can have all the aircraft, but if you don’t have people who are trained to fight with aircraft, you will still not get anything. Now that the government is acquiring more platforms for us, we already have pilots.”
Abubakar expressed delight that this was the second time the NAF was graduating new pilots this year. “This is the second time that we are winging pilots this year and this shows that we are thinking ahead of what the government is providing for us and I think it is really impacting positively,” he said. Meanwhile, the NAF has trained the first set of two flying officers from Liberia.
The 12 new pilots, and their Liberian counterparts, acquired their trainings from the International Aviation College in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, as well as the Afrika Union Aviation Academy, South Africa.
“In realization of our drive for human capacity development through robust and result-oriented training for enhanced professional performance, I am pleased that 12 more Nigerian Air Force pilots, along with two of their Liberian counterparts, are being winged today, having concluded their training in Kaduna and Ilorin.
“To our dear guests and brothers from Liberia, I hereby express our appreciation for the confidence you reposed in us by allowing us train your first set of pilots. I believe this is another milestone aimed at strengthening the relations between our nations,” Abubakar said.
This was as he also seized the moment to reiterate NAF’s efforts at defending the territorial integrity of the country. While noting that countries of the world were contending with myriads of armed conflicts such as terrorism and other violent crimes, Abubakar assured that his Force, in collaboration with other security agencies, will not rest on its oars, in its determination to protect the sanctity of the nation.
His words: “The 21st Century is characterised by plethora of armed conflicts occasioned by struggle for political power among ethnic nationalities and sub-nationalities. “Resource-based conflicts, terrorism and militancy have also continued to define the post-Cold War international environment.
“The Nigerian Air Force in the last three years or thereabout has continued to project air power both within and outside Nigeria. “To achieve this, we have embarked on human capacity development to reposition NAF to adequately deal with these challenges.”
Earlier, the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), re-assured President Muhammadu Buhari of the Armed Forces of Nigeria’s total loyalty, even as he reminded the newlyinducted officers, that to whom much was given, much was expected.
The ceremony was attended by the Liberian Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh, the country’s Minister of National Defence, officers, as well as families of the decorated officers.