By Tobias Lengnan Dapam Abuja
The efforts of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) at ensuring enhanced operational effectiveness in the prosecution of the ongoing war against insurgency in the Northeast as well as combating other forms of criminality in other parts of the country has received another boost yesterday with the graduation of 7 pilots of Basic Flying Course 18 at the 403 Flying Training School (403 FTS) Kano.
The Air Force in a statement issued yesterday by Ibikunle Daramola its Director of Public Relations and Information, said “the graduation also witnessed the decoration of a graduate of United States Air Force (USAF) Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) with NAF pilot wings; hence, in all, 8 pilots were decorated with wings having demonstrated the professional competence in handling fixed winged aircraft. This has brought the total number of pilots that have been winged within the past 3 years to an unprecedented 90.”
The statement said the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal
Sadique Abubakar, stated that the graduation ceremony and overwhelming resurgence of young pilots in the NAF were testimonies that his vision to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives has indeed become a reality.
He noted that “following extensive trainings, platform acquisitions and reactivation of grounded aircraft as well as resuscitation of unserviceable equipment, the NAF could now mostly fulfill its roles across the spectrum of air power tasks”.
The CAS added that the rebuilding process would continue as the Service continued to strive to consolidate by enhancing its manpower capacity and improving upon the serviceability status of aircraft in NAF inventory.
Air Marshal Abubakar noted, in particular, that a lot had been achieved in the critical area of human capacity development. According to him, “We recently graduated 11 pilots from Westline Aviation of South Africa, 10 pilots from International Aviation College Ilorin while 43 student pilots have completed their ab-initio flying training at 401 FTS Kaduna.
“Meanwhile, 27 student pilots are currently undergoing ab-initio flying training at 401 FTS while 6 have just departed for helicopter training in South Africa. Furthermore, 700 Special Forces personnel have been trained for the defence of NAF mission critical assets, while many personnel are undergoing engineering and other specialized Air Force related trainings both at home and abroad”, he added.