Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has declared its readiness to deploy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to the Niger Delta region to secure oil and gas pipelines and other critical oil installations owned by Shell company in the country.
The deployment of the UAVs, according to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, would not only ensure the safety of the maritime domain for social and economic activities, but would also prevent oil-theft, pipeline vandalism, militancy, kidnapping and other forms of economic sabotage.
He said it would also help to sustain the economic lifeline of Nigeria.
Air Marshall Abubakar made this know when the Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie, visited him in his office at the NAF headquarters, in Abuja.
Marshal Abubakar, in a statement signed by NAF’s Director Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshall Olatokunbo Adesanya, said the service had been actively involved in the security of oil pipelines, protection of critical national assets and general safety of the maritime environment.
According to the statement, “The recent development of the capability to produce UAVs had enabled the NAF to induct an operational drone named TSAIGUMI.
“The CAS further explained that the newly inducted UAV, which has day and night capability, has an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours, a service ceiling of 15,000 feet and a mission radius of 100km.
“The TSAIGUMI could also be used for policing operations, disaster management, convoy protection, maritime patrol, pipeline and power line monitoring as well as mapping and border patrol duties”, the CAS added.
“Speaking further, the CAS stated that the NAF was ready to partner with Shell Companies in Nigeria to produce more of the TSAIGUMI UAV, an option that would be more cost effective than importing drones from other countries. He said this would help develop local content as well as save more foreign exchange for the country.
“Accordingly, the service would be willing to send experts to Shell to make presentation on the capabilities of the TSAIGUMI UAV and explore mutually beneficial ways to better secure Shell facilities while further developing the NAF’s UAV capability.
“The CAS also informed the visiting Managing Director about the agreement with the Kaduna State Government, which was to acquire UAVs for the NAF to help operate towards further securing the State.
“He added that the replication of such an arrangement with the Shell Companies Nigeria would enhance the security of the Companies’ facilities. The CAS then stated that the NAF would willingly deploy its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft for surveillance whenever the Company requested for it.
In his remarks, Osagie thanked the Nigerian Air Force for its continuous support which had spanned many decades. According to him, the efforts of the NAF and other security agencies had made the continuous existence of peace and investment friendly environment possible in the Southern part of Nigeria.
In the words of Osagie, “The deployment of UAVs by the NAF would indeed further help to secure oil facilities and other crucial economic assets in the area.”
Osagie also thanked the CAS for granting him audience and for the readiness of the NAF to continue providing security to ensure the sustenance of economic activities in the Niger Delta, in particular, and Nigeria, in general.
“It is worthy to note that the NAF has played vital roles in the restoration of peace in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country. It is currently actively involved in the fight against insurgency in the Northeast, where it launched Operation THUNDER STRIKE against the Boko Haram insurgents a few days ago”.