The Czech Republic has expressed its interest to strengthen bi-lateral cooperation with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in the areas of training, aircraft acquisition and equipment maintenance. This was made known during the visit of the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Nigeria, His Excellency Mr Marek Skolil, to Headquarters Nigerian Air Force today, 2 April 2019, where he remarked that Nigeria and the NAF were the main partners of the Czech Republic in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking further during the visit, Ambassador Marek traced the cordial bi-lateral ties between both countries to the 1960s when the Czech Republic supplied the L-29 Delfin aircraft to Nigeria, which, among other newly-acquired aircraft, were employed by the NAF to provide necessary air support for the effective prosecution of the Nigerian Civil War. He noted that, over the years, the Czech Republic had continued to provide training and technical support first for L-29 aircraft and later for its successor, the L-39ZA aircraft, whenever called upon. Ambassador Skolil expressed satisfaction with the fact that the Czech technicians who were working in Kano were adding value to the overhaul activities on the NAF’s L-39ZA aircraft. He emphasized that these were all being carried out based on his country’s commitment to providing great value for money whilst ensuring strict quality control mechanisms. The Ambassador reiterated the determination of the Czech Government to continue providing the needed technical support for the reactivation and overhaul of the NAF L-39ZA fleet. He further added that the next phase of the collaboration would entail the upgrade/switch to the new L-39NG aircraft, which he said his Government was poised to embark upon in order to considerably enhance the NAF’s efforts to tackle current and emerging security challenges in the country. “The L-39NG is indeed an aircraft for the Next Generation but we also see it as a good omen of our cooperation with Nigeria”, he said.
Responding, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, expressed his delight in receiving the Ambassador in his Office while appreciating the Czech Government’s support and cooperation to Nigeria and the NAF right from the time of the Nigerian Civil War. He said he was happy to report that the Czech technicians, who were working in Kano with NAF engineers and technicians on the reactivation/overhaul of 3 L-39ZA aircraft, were doing an excellent job, despite the current high temperatures. He highlighted that upon completion of the life extension of these 3 aircraft, the Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) on the aircraft, which is provided for in NAF’s 2019 Budget, would commence as soon as the budget is passed and funds released. He noted that this would pave way for the eventual transition to the L-39NG by acquiring the necessary engines and avionics. The CAS further identified other areas of partnership to include basic and tactical pilot training as well as communications information systems. Accordingly, he revealed that he would be sending a team of NAF officers to visit the Czech Republic to work out modalities for the various training programmes as well as identify other areas of collaboration in aircraft and communications systems maintenance. Air Marshal Abubakar added that he was glad that both nations were committed to moving the existing cordial, mutually beneficial relations to even greater heights.
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force