The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is set to further strengthen its strategic partnerships with the National Engineering Design Development Institute (NEDDI) as well as Ibeto Group, an indigenous company, both in Nnewi, Anambra State, to further boost Research and Development (R&D) efforts towards finding innovative solutions to NAF engineering and technical problems. The rationale for expanding the partnerships is to ensure enhanced self-reliance in aircraft and equipment maintenance for the effective and efficient employment of Air Power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives. This was made known yesterday, 5 November 2019, by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, when he visited the 2 organizations.
While on the visit to the Ibeto Group Factory Complex, the CAS expressed his extreme delight with how the company had continued to partner with the NAF to produce batteries for the Mi-35P Helicopter Gunship which was being employed in operations to combat terrorists and insurgents in the Northeast as well as armed bandits and other criminal elements in the Northwest. He lauded the contributions of the company not only to the NAF but also to the entire Country. The CAS noted that the availability of spares and consumables was crucial to having sufficient number of serviceable aircraft and, in turn, critical to ensuring effective and efficient employment of Air Power, which is vital to success in modern warfare. He noted that while the NAF continues to enjoy support from its allies and friendly nations, it also realizes the need to develop indigenous capacity to produce some of the needed aircraft spares locally. This, he said, informed the NAF’s decision to prioritize its partnerships with local companies like the Ibeto Group. The CAS also disclosed that, in order to further benefit from the inherent capabilities of the Company, a joint team comprising NAF officers and staff of Ibeto Group would immediately be set up to explore other areas of mutual benefit, that would boost NAF operations, through reduced aircraft downtimes, whilst also saving much-needed foreign exchange and implicitly keying into the Federal Government’s policy of job creation for Nigerian youths.
Earlier in his remarks the Executive Director Operations and Investment Ibeto Group, Chief Eze Echesi, who received the CAS on behalf of the Chairman of the Group, Chief Cletus Ibeto, stated that the Company was extremely pleased with the level of support and collaboration between the 2 organizations. He equally canvassed for a deepening of the partnership as well as expansion of the areas of patronage to include the production of batteries for other NAF aircraft types as well as the production of lubricants and other consumables for NAF platforms. The visit to Ibeto Group featured a brief on the Company’s history, activities, products and projects, which was followed by a tour of the factory complex.
At NEDDI Nnewi, Air Marshal Abubakar, who was received by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Engr Dr Arinze Nwosu, restated his commitment to developing indigenous technology through collaboration with the Institute. He noted that the NAF, through its existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NEDDI’s Parent Agency, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, had undertaken a few collaborative projects with the Institue. However, he emphasized that his visit to the Institute was aimed at identifying additional areas of collaboration where the NAF could tap from the Institute’s knowledge base and experience. He noted that this would include collaborative engagements between NEDDI and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Kaduna. He reiterated that no country could fight a war effectively when wholly dependent on other countries for technology; hence the need to continuously look inwards for homegrown solutions.
Earlier, the NEDDI MD/CEO, while welcoming the CAS, stated that the Institute could serve as a centre for human capacity development of NAF engineers and technicians, especially in the areas of engineering design; machining; welding, fabrication and equipment assembly as well as Information and Communication Technology (ICT), amongst others. Before undertaking a tour of the facilities and products of the Institute, the CAS was briefed on NEDDI’s organization, skills and competencies, existing collaborative engagements as well as recent successes.
The CAS, who was accompanied by Principal Staff Officers from Headquarters NAF as well as the Air Officers Commanding (AOCs) Mobility Command and Ground Training Command, had earlier visited the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) Port Harcourt to inspect the ongoing reactivation work on an Mi-35P helicopter being jointly executed by a team of expatriate technical experts as well as NAF engineers and technicians.
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