The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will soon receive 17 platforms including aircraft and helicopters from the U.S, to boost its fight against insurgency and terrorism.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar made the disclosure at the induction ceremony of three newly acquired helipcopters, in Abuja.
The three helicopters, which were inducted by President Muhammadu Buhari, were two Agusta 109E (M) Power helicopters and Mi-17IE combat helicopter.
Abubakar said that the three helicopters would be effectively deployed in fighting against insurgency, terrorists and other forms of criminality.
The Chief of the Air Staff said that the Federal Government had so far procured and inducted 22 aircraft into the NAF’s inventory.
” Furthermore, the Service is expecting 17 additional platforms , including 12x Super Tucanos from the United States.
”In addition, the NAF through its in – Country maintenance capacity building Programme, is reactivating 3 x Aplpha jets as well as Mi – 35P helicopter gunship.
”Besides , the Service has successfully conducted the in- country periodic depot maintenance of 2x C- 130 transport aircraft with the support of President Buhari. The Service has undoubtedly come a long way from where it was in 2015.
”The resultant effect of these acquisition and reactivating of grounded aircraft has been game changing.Accordingly, the NAF has flown 36,853 hours in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists since 2015,’’ he said.
According to him, the Air Force has decimated insurgents from their previous positions of strength forcing them to abandon their Caliphate headquarters in Gwoza.
Abubakar said that terrorists were currently operating in small groups, in ungoverned spaces in the North East.
“Similarly, the NAF has flown 8.559 hours in the non-traditional missions of aid to Civil Authority and Civil Power, using the same platforms acquired by this administration.
”These are appreciable improvements, even as we recognise that much still needs to be done,” he said.
The Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, who described the induction ceremony as historic, said that President Buhari last year, during the celebration of NAF’s 55th anniversary, inducted two NAF aircraft.
“I am particularly elated because the President since assumption of office has given priority to national security.
“And part of it involves re-equipping the armed forces to enhance their operational effectiveness,” he said.
Some of the high points of the ceremony were the Unarmed Combat Display and Troop insertion and Combined Fast Rope by NAF Special Forces and the K9 display.
The ceremony also witnessed the inauguration and inspection of the NAF Helicopter/Research and Development (R&D), and presentation of souvenirs.