Viewpoint

February 6, 2022

Amid insecurity challenges, NAF waxes stronger

Super TucanoAmid insecurity challenges, NAF waxes stronger

By Olusegun O. Adebayo

Amid insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in the Northern region, the military offensive against terrorists, bandits and other criminals by the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has increased.

The Chief of the  Air Staff, CAF, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that he repositions NAF for greater performance in the last one year of his tenure in office. Upon assumption of office, Air Marshal Amao immediately approved the implementation of the NAF paperless process automation solution.

This initiative, currently at an advanced stage and the first of its kind in the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria, became necessary having observed NAF’s overdependent on paper in its daily correspondences, which has negative environmental impact.

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Realising that the availability of key infrastructures such as accommodation, roads and water in NAF Bases nationwide enhances morale of troops which have positive implications on NAF operational output, the CAS has given approval for the construction of Concrete Platforms for Aircraft Arrestor System for the newly inducted JF-17 Aircraft at NAF Base Makurdi and the expansion of Military Apron and resurfacing of part of old runway and taxiway at 105 Composite G Maiduguri.

The CAS also approved the construction of aircraft shelter and concrete pavement at NAF Base Bauchi and helipad at Forward Operating Base, Ogoja. These efforts are aside the over 100 blocks of different types of living accommodation at various levels of completion in NAF Bases nationwide.

The NAF, in the last one year, has invested substantially in R&D to develop unprecedented capacity to surmount current and emerging security challenges while also enhancing its operational viability. These breakthroughs were realized through the Air Force Research and Development Centre.

Some of the R and D breakthroughs recorded include the refurbishment of unserviceable rocket launchers and BMGs back loaded from operations, test firing of locally produced 18-tube rocket launchers for A-jet aircraft and the production and deployment of 30.1mm rocket to 271 NAF Det Birnin-Gwari for operational usage.

There were breakthroughs in the installation of generating system on Tsaigumi UAV, repair of quantity 2 x C-130H nose Radomes and production of a PGM prototype. These innovations have no doubt enhanced NAF’s operations and reduced, to a large extent, NAF’s over-dependence on foreign assistance thereby enabling the country make savings on foreign exchange.

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), NAF has airlifted several government officials, equipment, and medical supplies in response to the outbreak. The Service also ensured that its Liquefied Oxygen (LOX) plant is on 24 hours operation to ensure uninterrupted production and supply to Isolation Centers across the country.

In 2021, NAF airlifted COVID-19 medical relief materials donated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other donor partners like Team Europe, the German Government, United Nations Development Programme & Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The relief materials were airlifted from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to 14-member nations of ECOWAS. Additionally, in line with Mr President’s mandate to contribute towards winning the peace in troubled areas in the Country, the NAF has emplaced programmes aimed at alleviating the sufferings of IDPs as well as win the hearts and minds of those affected by the activities of BHTs and other criminal activities.

In keeping with one of his key drivers which harps on purposeful training and human capacity development, the Aircraft Engineering Branch made concerted efforts to secure some foreign training slots for NAF engineers which were approved by the CAS. Other achievements include the conduct of Master Technician Course at Flight Safety International Wichita, USA, Advance Maintenance training on Mi-35P helicopter by Ukrainian Technical Team at 115 SOG, Conduct of Avionics Components Repair Course at CAOCC and NAFTRAC training of 453 aircraft engineering personnel on 13 aircraft types in the NAF.

Major feats were also recorded in the sustenance of platforms and equipment serviceability through Innovative maintenance methods and logistics support systems.

In the last one year the NAF has winged 56 pilots who graduated from various pilot courses both at home and abroad. In the same vein, officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF are currently undergoing training in various countries including the United States of America, South Africa, India, Belgium, Egypt and Pakistan, amongst others.

In addition, hundreds of personnel across all specialties are also being trained locally despite budgetary constraints. The NAF has also significantly boosted the capacity of its Regiment and Special Forces with additional training and equipment to improve operations in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminality.

Other areas that have received significant capacity boost include the training of engineers and technicians, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), education, administration and medical professionals amongst others.

To sustain platforms and equipment serviceability to tackle current and emerging security challenges, the NAF has in the last 12 months witnessed a tremendous boost to its aircraft holdings across various fleets, through systematic acquisition and reactivation.

In addition to the previously acquired platforms, the NAF in the last one year has taken delivery of 15 brand new aircraft and Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) and have sustained reactivation of hitherto unserviceable platforms to upscale its capabilities in tackling insurgency, terrorism, armed banditry and other forms of criminality.

The acquisitions and reactivation as well as the emplacement of robust logistics support structure have enabled the NAF to raise the serviceability status of operable aircraft from about 35 per cent (35%) in 2015 to about 72 per cent (72%) as at September 2021.

The deployment of these platforms for combat has brought some level of sanity and normalcy to previously terrorist/bandits ravaged areas in the Northeast and Northwest.

Before his appointment the nation was overwhelmed by cases of kidnappings, banditry, cattle rustling and a crisis of different proportions, if Nigeria was not proactive in addressing such issues, especially in the face of a growing youthful population, the country may not be able to handle the repercussions.

NAF has succeeded in their mission against Boko Haram extremists and the Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram. The vision or NAF by Amao is hinged on five key drivers namely; focus on doctrinal development and application of airpower in joint military operations, pursuit of purposeful training and human capacity development as well as sustenance of platforms and equipment serviceability through innovative maintenance methods and logistics support systems.

He highlighted that the other key drivers include fostering a disciplined workforce essential for combat readiness and bolstering morale by improving personnel welfare.

* Adebayo is resident in Abuja

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