By Joseph Erunke
THE Nigerian Air Force said it would deploy two additional fighting helicopters to the North East by March,2019, to join the ones being used at the moment in the fight against insurgents in the region.
Preparatory to this, the expected aircraft, an Mi-35P and EC-135 helicopters which have long been on ground due to technical failure, are being reactivated.
Air Force spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola ,in a statement issued yesterday, said the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar , inspected the level of work on the helicopters Saturday, during his operational visit to 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The development, according to the statement, was in furtherance to the commitment of the service to ensure availability of more serviceable platforms for the prosecution of the ongoing war against insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country.
The statement read: “Upon completion in the first quarter of 2019, the reactivated aircraft would be available for deployment to enhance NAF operational efficiency in the discharge of its constitutional roles.”
The operational visit to 115 SOG, the statement explained, “was one of the series of visits by the CAS to NAF units across the country to assess the operational readiness in tackling emerging security challenges as well as progress of work on the reactivation of various platforms.
“The CAS, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans (COPP) NAF Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Muhammodu Muhammed, was conducted on an inspection tour of the completed Base Defence Coordination Centre (BDCC) by the Commander 115 SOG, Air Commodore Elijah Ebiowe.
”He also commissioned a new block of 18 single-bedroom Corporals and Below Quarters. The BDCC, which is equipped with communications and surveillance equipment to boost the operational capacity of the Unit in the area of intelligence gathering and real time coordination of the Base Defence Plan, would also help in timely response to security exigencies within the Unit’s Area of Responsibility (AOR).
“Earlier in his welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Tactical Air Command (TAC), AVM Oladayo Amao, thanked the CAS for providing the human and material resources to accomplish numerous projects in NAF Base Port Harcourt.