…As 1st female pilot, 72 others graduate from training school before 2019
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-FOR the first time in the last 18 years, the Nigerian Air Force has acquired six brand new helicopters to add to its platforms.
A Russian helicopter
This came even as a total of 73 pilots being trained by the service across the world await graduation from their various training schools before the end of the year.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this during interview with newsmen yesterday, on the sidelines of occasion of winging of newly trained pilots of the Nigerian Air Force and their Liberian counterparts, held at the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, Abuja.
A total of 12 Nigerian Air Force pilots along with two of their Liberian counterparts were winged at the occasion, having concluded their training in Kaduna, Kaduna State and Ilorin, Kwara State, respectively.
He said following the acquisition of the helicopters, the service had sent many of its personnel on pilot training in various countries among which he said included United States of America, Morocco and Jordan, adding that before the end of the ongoing year, the pilot trainee among which was the first Nigerian Air Force female pilot, would graduate from the schools.
“Acquiring the number of platforms in the Air Force, for us to have these platforms flying, we have to train the pilots.
“This is the first time in about 18 years that we are acquiring 6 brand new helicopters for the Air Force.
“This is quite significant in the sense that at least, we are building capacity and making sure that we have the right number of qualified staff that will man these helicopters that have been acquired.
“Human capacity is the most important .You can have all the aircraft but if you don’t have people who are trained to fight with aircraft, you will still not get anything, “he explained.
He added:” Now that the government is acquiring more platforms for us, we already have pilots. This is the second that we are winging pilots this year and this shows that we are thinking ahead of what the government is providing for us and I think it is really impacting positively.”
Earlier in his remarks at the occasion, the Nigerian Air Force chief noted that 21st Century was” characterised by plethora of armed conflicts occasioned by struggle for political power among ethnic nationalities and sub-nationalities.”
” Resource based conflicts, terrorism and militancy have also continued to define the post-Cold War international environment, “he said.
According to him,” The Nigerian Air Force in the last three years or thereabout have continued to project air power both within and outside Nigeria.”
“To achieve this, we have embarked on human capacity development to reposition the Nigerian Air Force to adequately deal with these challenges, “he said, adding the winging ceremony was a” clear testimony of our commitment as a service that is responsive to the needs of our country and our people.”
He spoke further: “The service has continued to discharge its mandate as provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic, professionally and diligently.
” We are presently engaged with other security agencies in the North East to deal with the Boko Haram terrorists threat to our national security. Our forces are equally in the North West;South South and North Central regions of the country.
‘The accomplishments of our pilots and other personnel, who are undertaking daring missions in the face of real danger, are testimonies to the quality of training they have received.
” Despite the successes we have recorded so far in all these multiple engagements, we are fully aware of the need to train and retrain personnel, including pilots required to deal with these challenges.”
Abubakar said the Nigerian Air Force under his leadership was not resting on its” oars but constantly building the required capacity to optimally project air power in these theatres in fulfilment of our national security imperatives.”
“In realization of our drive for human capacity development through robust and result oriented training for enhanced professional performance, I am pleased that 12 more Nigerian Air Force pilots along with 2 of their Liberian counterparts are being winged today, having concluded their training in Kaduna and Ilorin, “he further said.
” There are four Nigerian Air Force student pilots undergoing training with the United States Air Force and one of them is the first female potential fighter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force.
In addition, we have one student pilot with the Royal Moroccan Air Force and four student Instructor Pilots training at the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
” Coming back home, there are 64 student pilots at various stages of flying training in Nigerian Air Force Flying Training Schools.
” They are all expected to graduate by the end of this year, “he disclosed.
He used this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the Nigerian Air Force towards repositioning itself for a glorious future.