Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has unveiled an EC-35 Helicopter (NAF 549), reactivated at the 115 Special Operations Group in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Air Marshal Abubakar, who was in Port Harcourt at the weekend, said the unveiling signified the substantial progress NAF has made in its bid to continually build capacity in line with technological advancements in the field of military aviation, and to further prosecute the various ongoing operations across the country.
Abubakar noted that the addition of the newly re-activated EC-135 helicopter would be a force multiplier in the effort of the NAF to secure the lives and property of Nigerians, as well as protect the territorial integrity of the country.
He explained that the in-country reactivation has enabled the transfer of required skills and expertise to NAF technicians, thereby helping the Force build additional capacity to sustain its operations, adding that the service recently approved the training of 10 helicopter pilots by Cobham Helicopters in the United Kingdom.
“We have also commenced the tactical training of NAF helicopter pilots at the 405 Helicopter Combat Training Group (405 HCTG), Enugu, in order to build their capacity to function more effectively in complex air and ground environments,” he added.
The CAS expressed the service’s gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for the priority given to NAF efforts in maintaining its platforms and equipment, as well as the support given to acquire new platforms like the A-29 Super Tucano, JF-17 fighter aircraft, Mi-35M, Augusta A-109 Power and AW-139 helicopters.
Abubakar was in Port Harcourt in 2018 to unveil the Mi-35P helicopter (NAF 531) after an in-country life extension.
Speaking further, CAS promised to improve the welfare of NAF personnel through the provision of conducive home environments for them and their families.
He said the move would enable the personnel to continually put in their best in support of the various internal security operations across the nation.
The NAF boss stated that he would include the provision of additional accommodation for Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) in Port Harcourt, as well as the eventual upgrade of Air Force Secondary School, Port Harcourt, to a boarding school.
“On the purely administrative side, we are not unmindful of the need to enhance the welfare of personnel,” he said.
“Recall I mentioned during one of my previous visits to this Unit, that the NAF would upgrade Air Force Secondary School, Port Harcourt, to a boarding school. The process is ongoing and would be actualised soon.
“Similarly, we will spare no effort to make sure you and your families are comfortable while supporting the various missions in the country, including Operation Delta Safe, Operation Lafiya Dole, Operation Hadarin Daji and others,” the Air Force chief noted.