Strategic partnerships: NAF strengthens R&D efforts, signs new MoUs with key MDAs

In furtherance of its efforts to advance Research and Development (R&D) for enhanced operational effectiveness, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 1 July 2020, signed additional Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with 3 Organizations, namely; the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), University of Benin (UNIBEN) and Digital Bridge Institute (DBI). The erstwhile MoUs with the aforementioned organisations, which recently expired, were renewed by the NAF in line with its focus on strategic partnerships with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for enhanced R&D. The signing of the MoUs, which took place at Headquarters NAF, Abuja, had in attendance, Representatives of the 3 organizations, including: the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), AIB, Engineer Akin Olateru; the Vice Chancellor, UNIBEN, Professor Lillian Salami; and the President/CEO DBI, Engineer Professor Mohammed Ajiya. With today’s signing, the NAF now has 32 active MoUs with key MDAs in Nigeria.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Oladayo Amao, stated that the NAF as a highly technical Service relies on technology as the bedrock for success in its operations. He noted that, in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the NAF has, more than ever before, been looking inwards to gradually wean itself from over-dependence on foreign technology. He disclosed that this strategic policy posture had resulted in greater innovation and resourcefulness within the Service.

Air Marshal Abubakar stated further that collaboration with local organizations, by way of MoUs, remained critical, as it continues to serve as a pedestal to leapfrog existing capabilities as well as a repertoire of capacity that could be harnessed at short notice. He added that the MoUs would provide a platform to cross-fertilize ideas for greater innovation, ultimately leading to the achievement of meaningful solutions to the technological challenges of the Service and indeed the Nation, in a cost-effective manner. The collaborative efforts of the NAF, he said, had produced auto-pilot cassettes for the Mi-35 Helicopter, emergency  ventilator systems for COVID-19 patients as well aa hydraulic diaphragms for the Mi-35 helicopter and L-39ZA trainer aircraft. Other results of collaborative efforts of the NAF highlighted include the production of Alpha Jet anti-skid break system test bench and batteries for the Mi series helicopters. He disclosed that the specific areas of the NAF’s collaboration with the AIB, UNIBEN and DBI include aircraft accident investigation, aerospace technology, energy, software development and robotics.

Speaking on behalf of the MoU Partners, the UNIBEN Vice Chancellor, Professor Lilian Salami, said they were delighted to formally renew the R&D collaboration with the NAF. She  noted that the years of close interaction with the Service had shown that the NAF places high premium on professionalism through the acquisition of the appropriate education and skills. She observed that this was critical to ensuring technological advancement in any field of endeavour. Professor Salami pledged that the MoU partners, who she said, were already part of the NAF Family, would work with renewed commitment to understand the new areas of technological challenges with a view to developing shared, cost-effective solutions.

While delivering his welcome remarks, the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, AVM Remigius Ekeh, disclosed that the NAF had made giant strides in the area of R&D, especially in the last 5 years of the current NAF leadership. According to him, the CAS has inspired a lot of solutions to operational challenges in the NAF by investing in high quality training of personnel, approving innovative approaches to issues and encouraging out-of-the-box thinking, thereby achieving credible results whilst saving scarce budgetary resources.

High points of the occasion were the signing and presentation of the respective MoU documents.

Also present during the event were Branch Chiefs and Directors from NAF Headquarters as well as other senior military officers and officials from the 3 MoU partners.

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