By Doris Esa
#TrackNigeria: The Nigerian Air Force says it will take delivery of “Augusta 109’’ power helicopter from Italy, soon, to strengthen its arsenal for the fight against insurgency in the North-West.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this at the “2019 First Quarter Chief of Air Staff Conference on Wednesday in Abuja.
Abubakar said that acquisition of the military helicopter was part of renewed efforts of Federal Government to ensure that there was security in the North-West.
He said that the focus was particularly in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna states, where a new detachment had been approved by the Air Force Council.
“We have already provided landing facilities there for helicopters and we have also provided fuelling facilities for the aircraft,” he said.
Abubakar disclosed that NAF was currently reactivating five of its aircrafts, adding that “3L 39 Live Extension Programme’’ was on in Kano and “MI 35 Live Extension Programme’’ in Port Harcourt.
“I believe this methods substantially add to our capacity to boost these assets and make Nigeria secure.
“Similarly, on reactivation, three helicopters in Kanji are being overhauled. We have paid substantially for it and very soon, I believe by September this year, we will have those three helicopters flying.
“So, I think in terms of acquisition and reactivation of aircraft, the service has equally been successful,” he said.
Abubakar also said that the Force had trained no fewer than 1,000 Special Force elements that were contributing significantly in dealing with insecurity in Zamfara, where it had 300 Special Force operatives.
“We also have another 300 special force elements in Benue under `Operation Whirl Stroke’ that is run by the Defence Headquarters.
“We also have units in Taraba where we have the Quick Response Wing as well as in Agatu, Benue, where we also have the Quick Response Wing,” he said.
On Joint Force Operation, Abubakar said that the service was working closely with the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) under Operation YANCI TAFKI.
He also said that during recent general elections, the Force lifted over 820, 000 kilogrammes of polling materials, using eight aircrafts, to 31 locations across the country.
“We were able to conclude this in spite of the fact that we were brought in late to ensure that the Presidential, National Assembly elections, and Governorship and House of Assembly elections were conducted,“ he said
The air chief added that the service had on Tuesday conveyed election materials to Jalingo, Yola and Bauchi for Saturday’s supplementary elections slated by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). (NAN)