The Air Training Command of the Nigerian Air Force, Kaduna on Saturday graduated 13 combat pilots trained in Tactical and Fighter Helicopter courses in Makurdi.
Newsmen report that the combat pilots passed out after the shooting range exercise, which is one of the prerequisite tasks for the graduation.
The exercise was conducted at Kwenev Air Range in Guma Local Government Area of Benue.
The event was for the combined Air Range Exercise and Graduation ceremony of 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group (HCTG) and 407 Air Combat Training Group (ACTG) tactical helicopter and fighter courses.
At the ceremony, Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Air Training Command Kaduna, AVM MZ Suleiman, said that the graduating pilots had met the set standards for graduating.
According to him, the Service is graduating the first set of combat pilots trained in Nigeria.
He also said NAF had recently graduated 11 instructor pilots, 3 captains and 2 Co-pilots from 401 Kaduna to boost its human capacity.
“Today we are graduating 13 pilots; 5 Agusta 109 EM helicopter pilots and 8 Alpha Jet pilots, who have successfully completed their tactical/combat training.
“It is pertinent to note that the 5 Agusta 109EM helicopter pilot was trained at 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group Enugu while 4 of the 8 graduating Alpha Jet pilots were trained in 407 Air Combat Training Group Kainji.
“The other 4 Alpha pilots were trained with the Egyptian Air Force,” he said.
The AOC commended the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, for his support and resolve to re-position the Service for positive results.
In his remarks, the CAS, while congratulating the graduating pilots, charged them to focused towards contributing to the accomplishment of the Service goals and objectives.
Abukakar commended the principal officers of the command for their dedication and urged them to continue impacting their skills to the new pilots through focused mentorship.
He said the officers performed credibly well during the range exercise, which marked the end of their courses.
NAN reports that during the shooting range, the trained combat pilots displayed their talent using Agusta 109EM and Alpha Jet in different types of shooting.