The Nigerian Air Force has recorded more Research and Development (R&D) breakthroughs, which were showcased during the 47th convocation ceremony of the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Kaduna yesterday, 27 July 2018. The projects included a prototype Oleo-Pneumatic Shock Absorber for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), an Automatic Solar Tracking System and a Rocket Launcher Circuit Test Box. Others were a prototype of Light Weight Helicopter, an Unmanned Hexacopter as well as the adaptation and installation of BO-105 Helicopter guns on the Bell 412 Helicopters recently handed over to the NAF by the Federal Government. The convocation ceremony also featured the award of diplomas and degree certificates to 257 graduating students comprising 102 NAF personnel, 2 Nigerian Army personnel, 3 Nigerian Navy personnel and 150 civilians.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Barrister Boss Mustapha, who was the Special Guest of Honour, was taken on a guided tour of the exhibition stand for the new R&D breakthroughs. During the tour, he was informed that the Oleo-Pneumatic Shock Absorber was designed and produced by AFIT students, using entirely locally sourced materials. The system has been comprehensively tested and would be used on UAVs that would be subsequently produced by the NAF. Furthermore, the Automatic Solar Tracker was designed by AFIT students to maximize the harvest of solar energy while the Rocket Launcher Circuit Test Box was developed to test continuity in rocket launchers in aid of maintenance activities on NAF’s fighter aircraft.
The SGF and other dignitaries were also briefed that an R&D Team from AFIT had also successfully weaponized the Bell 412 Helicopters by adapting the guns that were procured in the 1970s for the now de-commissioned BO-105 Helicopters. Two pods, comprising 2 guns each, have already been installed on one of the Bell 412 Helicopters and successfully test fired, both on the ground and in the air, thereby saving the nation considerable foreign exchange that would have otherwise been expended in purchasing and installing new guns. Another significant breakthrough on display was the multipurpose Unmanned Hexacopter, which was designed and constructed in-house by a team of AFIT staff and students led by Flight Lieutenant Nkemdilim Ofodile. The Hexacopter, which was again successfully demonstrated yesterday, is designed for both military and civilian applications such as aerial surveillance, mapping, policing operations and pipeline monitoring, among others.
Speaking during the ceremony, the SGF expressed delight with the giant strides made by the NAF in the areas of human capacity development and R&D. He commended the NAF leadership for the progress in AFIT, especially the synergy of effort between military and civilian institutions. He noted that this type of synergy exemplified one of the policies of President Muhammadu Buhari, which is to create indigenous technological capacity in the military and civilian spaces in Nigeria towards engendering joint research efforts. He noted that AFIT was well positioned to continue to provide a pool of qualified manpower that would ensure sustainability of the Nigeria Air project. He then charged the graduating students to aim to be globally competitive and gear up to conquer the world.
Earlier, while declaring the convocation ceremony open, the Chairman of the AFIT Governing Council and Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, specially thanked President Buhari, for assenting to the Bill, which effectively transformed AFIT to the status of a degree awarding university. He equally thanked the National Assembly for the passage of the Bill. He noted that there is the need for private sector participation with a view to mass producing the R&D products to enable the nation maximally benefit from NAF’s R&D efforts. In his welcome address, the AFIT Commandant, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Cletus Udeagulu, thanked the SGF for accepting to grace the occasion and also appreciated the CAS for being the focal point of support that had enabled the Institute to record such remarkable achievements. He further revealed that the Institute was poised to commence degree programmes with effect from the 2018/2019 Academic Session.
Heads of other academic institutions as well as the Executive Secretaries of the NUC and NBTE delivered goodwill messages during the ceremony while prizes were presented to the best graduating students in the various departments. The event also featured the ground-breaking ceremony of the Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar Way, which would serve as the new entrance to the Institute.
Air Vice Marshal
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force