By Sumaila Ogbaje
Chief of the Air Staff, AVM Hasan Abubakar, says the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is expecting 51 additional platforms to boost counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in the country.
Abubakar made this known while addressing officers and men during his maiden operational tour of NAF units in Makurdi, Benue.
This is contained in a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
The CAS said the acquisition of additional platforms would bolster training, air power employment and projection.
He said that the platforms being expected include two Agusta 109 Trekker Multi-role helicopters, two Beechcraft King Air 360, three Diamond DA-62 surveillance aircraft and six T-129 ATAK helicopters.
Other pending acquisitions, according to him, include two CASA -295 medium airlift/surveillance aircraft, 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters and 24 M-346 attack aircraft.
Abubakar said the acquisitions demonstrated the deep commitment of the Federal Government to equipping the air force for the safe conduct of training and agile airpower employment to meet the nation’s security challenges.
He assured that the NAF would continue to enhance cooperation and joint action as part of a whole-of-nation approach to quickly resolving the security challenges bedeviling the country.
“While the NAF augments its airpower measures and approaches, it will also continue to promote seamless interoperability of equipment and joint force employment by the various services,” he said.
The air chief enjoined the personnel to cooperate with other services and security agencies to meet the high expectations of Nigerians on the Armed Forces to restore peace and security and ensure a safe and prosperous nation.
He acknowledged that the successes so far recorded were largely due to the renewed cooperation and joint efforts between the services and other security agencies, saying it must be enhanced and sustained.
The CAS assured the personnel of his commitment to proactively address maintenance and logistics support for all NAF fleet to ensure that it surpasses the current average serviceability of over 78 per cent.
On training, Abubakar promised that overseas and local training would henceforth be deliberate and targeted at addressing deficiencies in needed skills and capabilities.
He assured that selection for such courses would be purely merit-based to ensure that only the most qualified were selected to give the NAF value for money.
On welfare, he promised to tackle the problems of poor electricity and water supply as well as dilapidated accommodation and road infrastructure in all NAF Bases, to ensure
that personnel and their families live comfortably.
He also pledged prompt payment of all entitlements, adding that he would look into the issue of uniforms and other accoutrements.
The CAS urged all NAF personnel to remain disciplined, diligent and responsible in their conduct in and out of uniform. (NAN)