Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has said that the Tucano fighter jets ordered by the Federal Government from the United States ,in 2019, will arrive the country in the second quarter of 2021.
Abubakar, who stated this yesterday, when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Air force, to defend the 2021 budget proposal of the service, said the force will also acquire eight unmanned aerial vehicles from China and three JF17 thunder fighter aircrafts from Pakistan in 2021. The Air chief informed the lawmakers that the Air force has acquired 22 aircrafts, in recent times, and was expecting 17 more, in addition to the three special mission aircrafts, it is expecting under the Deep Blue project of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
However, he expressed concerns that the N8.8billion proposed for the overhead cost of the Air Force in the 2021 fiscal year is grossly inadequate, owing to the new platforms it has acquired, as well as new units that were set-up recently. According to him, the overhead cost of the service has remained constant at N8.8 billion despite the increase in the number of personnel and formations.
“We have acquired additional infrastructure, but inspite of that, not much has changed in terms of the overhead. We have increased by about 11 units. These are located in Agatu in Benue state, Gembi in Taraba state, Damaturu in Yobe state, in Ikirun in Osun state, we are expanding the unit in Ipetu Ijesha. We have also established an FOB in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna state.
“The running cost of these units is something that is weighing heavily on the Air Force. That is why we are appealing for increase in the overhead cost.” In terms of personnel, the Air Force has grown to over 11,000 personnel and right now, we are recruiting an additional 1000. So, it is huge in terms of the infrastructure.
“For a breakdown of the proposed capital expenditure, we have the 3 JF17 thunder fighter aircraft that the Air Force is acquiring from Pakistan and we are proposing about N17.3 billion for this, while the procurement of targeting bolts for the JF17 thunder aircraft will gulp N3.7 billion.