The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has announced the appointment of a new Air Task Force Commander for Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the ongoing country insurgency operations in north east.
Similarly, the NAF has appointed three Divisional Air Liaison Officers (DALO), for the 3, 7 and 8, Armourer Divisions of the Nigerian Army in the Northeast to ensure a better coordination of air efforts with ground operations.
Chief of Air Staff,(CAS), Air Marshall Abubakar Sadiq, who made this known at the opening of the fourth Quarterly CAS Conference, in Abuja, also said the Air Force has injected five additional combat helicopters to boost its operations and end the terrorism war in the shortest possible time.
Marshal Abubakar, who said the appointment of the new commander and Liaison Officers, was aimed injecting new ideas and boost communications and Intelligence gathering said, “The whole idea is to ensure a better coordination of air efforts with ground operations”.
The NAF chief, while noting that the NAF, was restrategising to further limit the possibility of gaps in the terrorism war, said the service has equally trained some of its Regiment personnel as additional Special Forces and deployed them to the Northeast for operations alongside other surface forces.
He also said for the first time in the history of the NAF, a female pilot, is on her way to the United States Air Force for training as a fighter pilot, having graduated as the overall best pilot during training at the 401 Flying Training School, in Kaduna.
The Air Force chief also said the conference was aimed at appraising progress made so far in the service as well as obtain fresh ideas from bottom to the top to move the NAF forward and enjoined the participants comprising Branch Chiefs, Air Officers Commanding and Field Commanders, to be frank in their contributions, identify challenges and proffer ways of moving the NAF forward.
The NAF chief while listing the achievement of the service said, “The NAF had activated additional platforms which had been deployed for operations in the Northeast. For example, one Bell 412 Helicopter had been activated while work on the second one would be completed before the end of the month.
“One Mi-35P Helicopter is being reactivated and should be ready for operation by January 2018 ending. The overhauled engines needed for the reactivation had already arrived in Nigeria. The reactivation is being done locally to further build the capacity of NAF technical personnel and also save cost. So, foreign technical experts had been invited to execute the project in conjunction with NAF engineers and technicians.
“Therefore, total of 5 combat helicopters are being added to the NAF counterinsurgency efforts.
“The Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) of C-130H Aircraft had commenced in Lagos. Also being done locally by foreign technical experts with NAF personnel for capacity building. Similarly, the Service life of C-130H aircraft NAF 913 has been successfully extended. The foregoing efforts are to boost the strategic and operational airlift capability of the NAF.
“The NAF air operations in the Northeast has been reorganized for increased efficiency. The Air Component Commander has been replaced with a Commander Air Task Force, an Air Vice Marshal (2-star General), who reports to the Theatre Commander.
“In the area of Force Protection, the NAF has trained some of its Regiment personnel as additional Special Forces and deployed them to the Northeast for operations alongside other surface forces.
“The NAF has graduated the second set of participants from its Air War College in Makurdi. The graduates are expected to add value to the Service in general and in operational activities.”