The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the in-house reactivation of 2 more platforms to enhance its operational efficiency in the discharge of its constitutional roles. The reactivation, which would enable the Service save huge foreign exchange that would have been expended if carried out abroad, would also improve NAF’s operational capability. The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, while assessing the progress of work on the Mi-35P and EC-135 helicopters at 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) Port Harcourt on 28 September 2018, stated that the aircraft would become serviceable and available before the end of the year, bringing to 15 the total number of aircraft that would have been reactivated within the last 3 years. It may be recalled that, just recently, the NAF re-inducted another Mi-35P helicopter into combat duties after undergoing a comprehensive in-country Life Extension Programme (LEP) at 115 SOG; the first time such a feat would be achieved for NAF Mi-series helicopters.
Air Marshal Abubakar, who also commissioned a new block of 30 single bedroom transit accommodation for airmen and airwomen as well as a remodelled and furnished block of Single Officers’ Quarters (SOQ), equally inspected Research and Development (R & D) projects executed by the Unit. These projects included the design and construction of a Cannon Loading Machine; Rocket Pod Testing Device as well as a Battery Cart and AC Generator Phasing Device for Mi-35P Helicopter Fleet. Others are the design and construction an Engine Stand and Ground Towing Equipment for the EC-135 Helicopter. Conducting the CAS and other dignitaries on a tour of the R&D projects, the Commanding Officer 14 Logistics Wing (CO 14 Log Wg), Wing Commander Opeoluwa Ige, stated that the projects were embarked upon to provide innovative solutions to engineering problems in the unit. He pointed out that they had been executed by personnel of the unit, in collaboration with some local and foreign partners, at a fraction of the cost of purchasing same or similar equipment from abroad. Responding, the CAS commended the Commander 115 SOG, Air Commodore Elijah Ebiowe, and CO 14 Log Wg for their commitment and resourcefulness in executing so many R&D projects, which would, no doubt, reduce turn round time for aircraft maintenance. He also congratulated the Commander for achieving 100 percent serviceability rate of operable aircraft in the unit, while also effectively supervising the reactivation work on the 2 NAF helicopters.
While commissioning the blocks of accommodation, the CAS stated that all actions taken in the Service were geared towards actualizing his vision for a highly professional and disciplined fighting force for the effective and efficient employment of Air Power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives. This, he said, required the right structure and equipment as well as a well-trained and motivated workforce. He stated that achieving the right structure had necessitated the creation of 2 new commands – the Special Operations and Ground Training Commands. In terms of equipment disposition, the CAS disclosed that, with the support of the Federal Government, the NAF had acquired and inducted 18 brand new aircraft into the Service, while also reactivating 13 others that were previously unserviceable; bringing to 31 the total number of aircraft that had come into service in the last 3 years. Speaking further, the CAS noted that the NAF was also expecting the delivery of additional 6 brand new attack helicopters procured from Italy along with the 12 Super Tucano aircraft expected from the United States of America, which would significantly boost NAF’s aircraft holding by the end of 2020. He noted that such unprecedented acquisition of aircraft was last witnessed in the early 80s. He therefore thanked the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the National Assembly for their continued support to the Service.
Air Marshal Abubakar stated that the NAF was doing its utmost to ensure high level of motivation among its personnel. Apart from providing conducive work and residential environments and ensuring prompt payment of allowances, the Service had, in the last 3 years, provided new hospitals and upgraded existing ones in NAF units across the country while also establishing new schools and expanding existing ones to ensure favourable home front for personnel while fighting in the various theatres. In this regard, he announced that the conversion of the Air Force Secondary School Port Harcourt into a boarding school would soon commence. The CAS also highlighted that, in line with his capacity building initiatives, the Service had embarked on massive training in all NAF specialties. For instance, the NAF had produced 90 pilots in the last 3 years and had trained many personnel in various fields of information communication technology and engineering, both locally and abroad. “Only recently in Lagos, we established a Forensic Crime Laboratory at the 057 Provost Investigation Group. We have also trained 32 personnel in modern investigative techniques while 140 Air Provost personnel are undergoing special operations training to join our recently established Quick Response Groups and Wings”, Air Marshal Abubakar said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Tactical Air Command (TAC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Oladayo Amao, who was represented by the Chief of Staff Headquarters TAC, AVM Idi Lubo, appreciated the CAS for providing human and material resources to accomplish the laudable projects. “These projects in 115 SOG are not in isolation as they are reflective of the CAS’ effort to provide sufficient accommodation for the ever-growing number of NAF personnel in various bases across the country”, he said.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force