From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Tuesday winged seven fighter pilots with a charge on them to be strong, bold and disciplined to tackle the myriads of security challenges bedeviling the nation.
The young pilots have also been told to be combat-ready to deal with terrorists, kidnappers, bandits and other criminals disturbing the peace of the country with their nefarious activities as they would be called upon at very short notice.
Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshall Sadiq Abubakar gave the charge while decorating the officers with their new wings.
Abubakar, while noting that the Nigerian Air Force would continue to train her personnel for combat readiness in the face of current security challenges, said he was confident that “with our continued commitment and sustained effort, we shall overcome every threat to the peace and security of our dear country, Nigeria.
While congratulating the pilots, the NAF Chief reminded them that their winging was coming with a burden of responsibility as much would be expected of you.
He said since his assumption of office in 2015, the Nigerian Air Force has winged 124 pilots comprising 76 pilots who completed their training in foreign institutions and 48 in local institutions.
‘Today’s ceremony is one of the series of remarkable strides of the Nigerian Air Force towards human capacity development for enhanced professional performance. Permit me to state that from Jul 15 to date, Let me highlight at this point that with today’s winging of 7 pilots, the total number of pilots trained by the current Nigerian Air Force administration is now 131 which constitutes 49.6% of the total strength of Nigerian Air Force active pilots,’ he stated.
‘These 7 young pilots who completed basic fighter pilot training are a testament of Nigerian Air Force’s deliberate efforts at training fighter pilots to man the fighter platforms in its inventory as well as those expected to be received in the nearest future. This will undoubtedly place the Nigerian Air Force at a dominant position to deliver on its constitutional role especially at this time when our nation is facing numerous security challenges. As at today, the Nigerian Air Force has a total of 193 officers and airmen/airwomen undergoing training abroad cutting across several specialities and trade. Out of this number, 2 pilots are currently undergoing Undergraduate Pilot Training with the United States Air Force, while 4 student pilots are in the Czech Republic undergoing Basic Fighter Training on the L-39 aircraft. In the same vein, 4 pilots are undergoing helicopter training at the United States Army Aviation, while additional 4 have been processed to join up in the coming days. Furthermore, 9 pilots are in the United Kingdom undergoing Basic Helicopter Pilot Training. Also, another 9 are in South Africa undergoing Basic Fixed Wing Pilot Training. It is pertinent to highlight that notwithstanding these achievements, the Nigerian Air Force cannot afford to rest on its oars at training her personnel for combat readiness in the face of current security challenges.
‘To the young pilots that have just been winged today, I congratulate you for successfully completing the training. You should remember that the feat you have achieved comes with a burden of responsibility and so much will be expected of you. Besides, you will be operating at a time when our nation needs you most with the myriads of security challenges facing the nation. You must therefore be a strong, bold and disciplined. I urge you to continue to give your best and do not relent as the Nigerian Air Force cannot be strong and effective without our collective contributions no matter how modest they may be. You must believe in yourselves even as you join your colleagues in the theatres of operation. I am confident that with our continued commitment and sustained effort, we shall overcome every threat to the peace and security of our dear country, Nigeria.
‘Let me use this auspicious occasion to further thank His Excellency, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, for his consistent commitment to the development of the Armed Forces, particularly the Nigerian Air Force.
‘Indeed, the President’s continued support has positioned us to give our all for the peace and stability of our fatherland. On this note, I congratulate everyone involved in the training of these officers, and implore you all to remain fully committed to the successful execution of our constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the nation.’