Again, NAF Graduates Male, Female Pilots

In its resolve to ensure availability of well trained pilots to prosecute the ongoing war against insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality in the Country, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 10 September 2020, graduated additional 29 student pilots who have completed their ab-initio flying training at the 401 Flying Training School (401 FTS), Kaduna.

The graduating students, who are members of 66 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), comprising 27 male and 2 female officers, commenced training as flight cadets of NDA on 7 January 2019 as members of Student Pilots Course 46 (SP 46). With today’s graduation, the NAF has successfully graduated 145 student pilots from 401 FTS in the last 5 years.

While congratulating the graduands of SP 46 for withstanding the rigours, hard work and stress associated with the training, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that his Administration’s drive to continually develop adequate capacity for effective, efficient and timely employment of Air Power in response to national security imperatives remains on course. The CAS noted that SP 46 had successfully conducted their flying training on both the Diamond 40 and Super Mushshak aircraft types, which according to him, was a positive deviation from what was obtainable in the past. The feat, he said, would not have been achieved if not for the dedication of the ground instructors, instructor pilots as well as prompt and effective aircraft maintenance and availability of aviation fuel which ensured qualitative training.

Air Marshal Abubakar enjoined the graduands to maintain the same attitude of dogged determination as they proceed to the next phase of military flying training while reminding them that there is more work to be done to earn their wings. He charged them to continue to exhibit the right aptitude and attitude as well as determination in order to improve their flying skills. “You must continually develop survival skills and be prepared to safely navigate platforms most especially at night and in all weather conditions” he added. The CAS further stated that at the inception of his Administration in 2015, 401 FTS had only 3 Diamond-40 platforms for the conduct of flying training. The grossly inadequate number and the unsuitability of the platform for aerobatics and other unusual manoeuvres, he said, significantly diminished the ability of the NAF to conduct military flying training. “Today, we have 15 platforms with a wide range of capabilities enabling quality training. This has empowered 401 FTS to train a total of 145 student pilots from the end of 2015 to date. Additionally, 24 Instructor Pilots and 15 UAV pilots have also been trained within the same period. These numbers represent the attainment of a remarkable feat that had previously eluded the NAF”, he said. The CAS therefore commended the Air Officer Commanding Air Training Command (AOC ATC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Musa Mukhtar, as well as the Commander 401 FTS, Air Commodore Ahmed Idris, and his entire staff for their efforts in realizing this feat.

The CAS also thanked the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his continued support and belief in the ability of the NAF. He noted that the timely provision of the much needed air assets as well as the resources to buy spares, aviation fuel and other consumables by the Federal Government was the most important factor that has translated into the commendable achievements recorded by the Service. Furthermore, he noted that the  NAF’s ability to wing 114 pilots in the last 5 years has led to a vibrant application of Air Power in combating the security challenges facing the Country. According to him, the multiplier effect has been a boost especially in the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts in the North East as well as the fight against armed banditry in the North West and North Central Zones of the Country.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commander 401 FTS, while thanking the CAS for his unrelenting support to the Unit, stated that the Course was the first of its kind to have flown 2 different platforms; the Diamond 40 and Super Mushshak aircraft during the course of their training. He said the Unit achieved such feat even when it had to contend with other demanding tasks. The Commander noted that alongside the training of student pilots, the Unit is also actively involved in airlift/VIP flights as well as Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of Operations THUNDER STRIKE and HADARIN DAJI against armed bandits in parts of North-West and North-Central Zones. According to him, the student pilots began their training with ground academic phase, which lasted for a period of 16 weeks, followed by the various stages of the flying phase with all 29 of them  successfully completing the course with satisfactory levels of airmanship.

One of the highlights of the colorful event, which also had the NAF Chief of Training and Operations, AVM James Gwani, as well as the Commandants of the NDA and Armed Forces Command and Staff College in attendance, was the presentation of certificates to the graduating students. Awards were also presented to graduands who distinguished themselves on the Course, with Flying Officer Ja’afar Abdulkadir bagging both the Best in Academics as well as the Best All Round Student’s Awards, while Flying Officer Nicholas Egong clinched the Best in Flying Award.

IBIKUNLE DARAMOLA
Air Commodore
Director of Public Relations & Information
Nigerian Air Force
10 September 2020
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NAF Commissions Infrastructure Projects in Plateau

The Executive Governor of Plateau State, Right Honourable Simon Bako Lalong, has commended the visionary leadership of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, as well as his outstanding diligence in the discharge of duties, which he said would surely transform the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to become the best Air Force in Africa. “We are witnesses to the great attention the CAS has paid to the welfare and training of personnel of the NAF throughout the country. He has also ensured the acquisition of air platforms and other equipment necessary for the operations of the Force”, he said. The Governor gave this commendation today, 9 September 2020, while commissioning some infrastructure projects for NAF personnel at the 205 Combat Search and Rescue Group (205 CSARG) and the newly established Air Provost Training Centre (APTC), at NAF Base Kerang, Mangu Local Government Area (LGA) of Plateau State. The commissioned projects include 2 blocks of 10 x single bedroom furnished residential accommodation for airmen instructors and students of the APTC as well as an Officers’ Mess for officers of the 2 Units.

The Governor, who was also in Kerang in 2017 during the ground breaking ceremony/commissioning of the 205 CSARG Headquarters Building, noted that the establishment of the Special Operations Command (SOC) and subsequent siting of the Group in Kerang were glowing evidences of the resolve, commitment and determination of the Federal Government to ensure that law abiding citizens are secured and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians guaranteed. He noted that the remarkable transformation that had taken place were also hallmarks of the CAS’ dynamic leadership. While highlighting that his Administration, with the cooperation of the Plateau citizens and support of the Federal Government and security agencies, had ensured the return of peace, he noted that there was need for vigilance against merchants of crises who are always scheming to take the State to the dark days. He therefore called on the good people of Plateau State and especially the Kerang Community, who generously acceded to the approval of this expanse of land for the Unit, to continue to maintain peaceful and harmonious coexistence in the interest of national security.

Governor Lalong further observed that prior to the establishment of 205 CSARG, the Plateau State Government already had a cordial working relationship with the NAF which, he said, played significant role in tackling insecurity, promoting education and delivering quality healthcare services to Plateau citizens. He added that the establishment of the Group had widened the NAF’s participation in the consolidation of peace and security of the State, particularly in the rural areas. He stated further that, as Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, he was aware of the deployments of NAF air assets and personnel not only to Plateau State and other parts of the North, but to other parts of the Country where such challenges exist. “On behalf of my colleagues, I register our appreciation to the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, and the CAS for responding to our pleas promptly”, he added. While urging personnel of the Service to continue to foster the high standards of good civil-military relations with host communities for which the NAF is known, the Governor reassured the CAS of his Administration’s commitment towards supporting the Service at all times.

In his remarks at the occasion, Air Marshal Abubakar, while lauding Governor Lalong’s continued demonstration of strong commitment to the security of the people of Plateau State, noted that the reason for establishing the 205 CSARG was primarily to further bring security closer to the people of the State. He noted that this was in keeping with his Vision upon assumption of office in 2015 which was “To reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of airpower in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives”. He further disclosed that, after assessing the structure of the Service, at the time it was observed that it was inadequate to properly actualize the Vision. The CAS noted that deliberate steps were therefore taken to expand the organizational structure of the Service with the creation of 2 new Field Commands, the Special Operations Command (SOC) headquartered in Bauchi and the Ground Training Command (GTC) in Enugu, as well as several specialized Units, including those at Owerri in Imo State; Gusau in Zamfara State; Lafia in Nasarawa State; Agatu in Benue State, Gembu in Taraba State and Bauchi in Bauchi State. Others, he said, included the NAF Detachment in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State; a Forward Operating Base in Damaturu, Yobe State; Quick Response Wing in Lafia, Nasarawa State as well as the newly established 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group in Gombe, Gombe State and the 205 CSARG Kerang. The CAS noted that the upgraded structure has positioned the Service to more effectively ensure the security of Nigeria and Nigerians, working in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies.

Speaking further, the CAS stated that the NAF’s ability to realize the Vision had also been boosted by the immense support of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, which had enabled the Service to procure 22 brand new aircraft in the past 5 years, which were already deployed for operations in different parts of the Country. He equally disclosed that the NAF was also expecting 17 additional aircraft to be delivered before the end of Year 2021. The CAS noted that in order to effectively man these aircraft the Service had winged 114 new pilots since 2015, while another 103 student pilots were undergoing various levels of training to become qualified NAF pilots. He further noted that the Service had trained over 2,000 new engineers and technicians with another 500 expected to graduate from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) by next week. The CAS also noted that the Service had trained over 4,000 Regiment and Special Forces personnel to ensure the protection of its bases and air assets. Air Marshal Abubakar emphasized that the overall objective was to ensure that the Service builds robust capacity to ensure a secured, united and prosperous Nigeria.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) SOC, Air Vice Marshal Charles Ohwo, noted that since the establishment of 205 CSARG in 2017, the NAF had continued to build capacity to ensure that the NAF has capability for effective, efficient and timely CSAR missions. He disclosed that after the first few personnel were trained abroad, the training of subsequent sets of CSAR were conducted locally at Kaduna and Ipetu-Ijesha, due to high cost of foreign training. These personnel, who he said, were capable of tracking, searching, locating and rescuing occupants of downed combat aircraft or personnel in distress, were currently deployed to various Theatres of Operation across the Country. The AOC added that for the Unit to effectively undertake its roles of medical and casualty evacuation, it needs to be strengthened and equipped with platforms, equipment and highly-trained professionals. According to him, the CAS, being mindful of this, had authorized the execution of several projects, which he said, were at various stages of completion. These, he said, included a standard 22-bed Medical Centre, which would not only cater for NAF personnel but also members of the host community and others who may be referred to the facility.

Also present at the event were the Plateau State Deputy Governor, Professor Sonny Theoden, and other top Government functionaries of the State, Traditional Rulers form Mangu LGA as well as the Commander Operation SAFE HAVEN, Branch Chiefs from the NAF Headquarters, AOC Ground Training Command and other senior military officers.

IBIKUNLE DARAMOLA
Air Commodore
Director of Public Relations & Information
Nigerian Air Force
9 September 2020