BENINâ€”THE second ART-42 Maritime Patrol AircraftÂ (NAF 931) purchased by the Federal Government for the surveillance of the nationâ€™s maritime and coastal region was yesterday delivered to the 81, Air Maritime Group in Benin.
It would be recalled that the first ART-42 Maritime Patrol Aircraft was unveiled by the Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, in December last year.
The two aircraft are to be employed by the Nigerian Air Force in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy in the patrol of the countryâ€™s maritime region in Maritime and Coastal Surveillance, Search and Rescue, Pollution Control, Anti-piracy and smuggling patrols, and illegal bunkering among others.
At the induction of the first ART 42 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, former Minister of Defence, Major-General Godwin Abbe (rtd), disclosed that apart from the ART-42 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, â€œa C-130 Hercules is currently in Portugal undergoing PDM/upgrade of avionic systems, while the overhaul and up grade of the G-222s is still on-going, the Super Puma helicopters are also being refitted by Messers Eurocopter of France for reactivation.â€
General Abbe, who was then represented by the Director, Air Force, in the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Michael Idoko, added that a squadron each of F-7NI combat aircraft and Agusta 109 Light Utility Helicopter would soon be provided for the Nigerian Air Force.
He disclosed that huge losses were incurred annually by the nation to illegal bunkering and mining of marine resources along its exclusive economic zone, while the perpetrators of the unwholesome acts go about their businesses. “The acquisition of the ART-42 and the Agusta 109 Light Utility Helicopter will no doubt enhance our capability in the maritime environment,â€ he said.
While expressing gratitudel to the Federal government for its support to the Nigerian Air Force, the Minister recalled that the Nigerian Air Force was the pride of the nation in the 80s and a dependable air power in the West African sub-region. He regretted that the incursion of the military into politics in the 90s almost grounded its activities.
Receiving the second ART-42 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the Acting Commander of the 81 Air Maritime Group, Air Commodore Umar Atiku, expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for the purchase of the aircraft, adding that he was very happy thatÂ it was in a very good condition.
The ART-42 patrol aircraft has a performance cruising speed of 350km/h, maximum speed of 555km/h, a range of 3,740 km and service ceiling of 7,600m (25,00feet).
It also has triple sensors arrangement, high resolution infrared camera, high resolution colour acquisition television, automatic tracker, and 360 degree continuous azimuth scanning among other devices fitted in it.