By Luka Binniyat
KADUNA — Young officers from Nigerian Air Force School of Engineers, Aircraft Design Centre, Kaduna, yesterday, dazzled the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Okon Bassey-Ewa when they displayed to him an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV, referred to as drone, which could fly non-stop for about four hours at 3000 feet.
The drone was conceptualised, designed and built by them in Kaduna under the direct supervision of the Provost of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Institute of Technology, Prof. Emmanuel Ezugwu.
According to officials of the institute, the drone’s empenage was about three metres while the wing span was about half a metre.
The four officers, all Flight Lieutenants, said it was a three-year effort in collaboration with Cranfield University of United Kingdom with funds from the Federal Government.
The officers who asked that all the credit for break through be given to the Commandant of the school and Chief of Air Staff pleaded that their names be not mentioned in the press.
The school had earlier displayed a conceptualised model of an ab-initio training fighter aircraft known as Farawa (meaning “the beginning” in Hausa) for the Air Force just as it was trying to design a Nigerian-made Air Beattle, AB-18, for the Air Force.
The four officers had bagged Masters degrees in various fields related to avionics from Cranfield University, after their first degrees from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
They told Vanguard: “We designed and built this UAV based on the pressing needs of our country today. The vehicle can be used in pipeline monitoring, border patrol, mapping and disaster monitoring. Other areas of use include maritime patrol, aerial surveillance and pest monitoring.
“The vehicle can fly at 3000 feet, and remain airborne for four hours using petrol for now. The first one we built is called Amebo 1. The second one is Amebo 2 and is an improvement over the first.
“If we keep getting the right support as we are getting now, we will accomplish our mission for the country.”
In fact in the next five years, we may start building our own light aircraft for training new pilots”, the officers said.
The Minister who was obviously amazed at the development was in Kaduna attending the National Stakeholders’ Workshop/Exhibition on National System of Innovation, NSI, during which several inventions by Nigerians were exhibited.
Earlier in his opening remarks at ceremony the Minister had said, “as demonstration of the drive towards promoting innovations the Ministry is calling for entries for the maiden, ‘’Best
The award which was open to individuals, institutions and corporate bodies has a grand prize of N1 million.