The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has charged the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Air Engineering Specialty to evolve a new strategy and provide the necessary support to sustain the tempo of ongoing operations against insurgency and terrorism to justify the confidence reposed in the NAF by Nigerians. The CAS gave this charge today, 19 March 2020, at the NAF Base Kaduna while declaring the two-day 2020 Air Engineering Conference open. According to him, the Theme of the Conference, “Building Capacity for Self-reliance in Aircraft/Armament Engineering for Enhanced Air Power Delivery in the NAF”, was apt considering the current security situation in the country, which, he said, requires self-reliance in Air Power Projection in line with his Vision. To address the security challenges, Air Marshal Abubakar stated that the NAF must put together a carefully planned strategy not only covering maintenance of platforms but would also facilitate self-reliance in the maintenance of all its air assets. “It is only when we get the strategy right that we can hope to effectively and efficiently deploy Air Power necessary to address challenges facing the country”, he added.

Speaking further, the CAS, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Oladayo Amao, reiterated the need to justify the confidence reposed in the Service by ensuring that resources committed to aircraft acquisition are not whittled away through poor maintenance, especially at this crucial time that the country needs all efforts towards defending her territorial integrity, whether acting singly or in concert with other security agencies. He added that the President and the entire Nation must be assured that the NAF would continue to do its best to fulfill its statutory responsibility.

The CAS remarked that Air Engineering is the bedrock of aviation and it involves the performance of tasks required to ensure the continuing airworthiness of aircraft and armament systems...“Which is why there is no gainsaying that the success of any Air Force depends largely on the air engineering specialty, tasked with ensuring aircraft readiness for deployment at any time”, he said. As such, he noted that the NAF consistently seeks ways of standardizing its maintenance procedures and operations in line with current global best practices.

In cognizance of the critical element that aircraft serviceability entails in timely employment of Air Power, the CAS explained that the Service had focused attention on developing the capacity of armament and aircraft maintenance personnel through robust and result oriented training both locally and overseas. He added that the NAF had entered into MOUs with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) for in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance and reactivation of aircraft with the aim of transferring knowledge to NAF personnel in the process. “The impacts of these trainings have been evident in improved skill and capacity of maintenance personnel to conduct higher levels of maintenance that were hitherto conducted abroad. We must sustain and consolidate these models of training for capacity building of our maintenance personnel”, he said.

The CAS commended the Chief of Aircraft Engineering (CAcE) and his team for sustaining high serviceability of aircraft to support operations and for organizing the Conference. He urged them not to rest on their oars but to continue to find new and better ways to build capacity for aircraft maintenance and self-sustenance. Air Marshal Abubakar also restated his commitment to continue with the aggressive infrastructural renewal/development in all NAF Engineering Units towards the achievement of capacity that the NAF would be proud of. He therefore urged all to continue to add value towards making the Service more responsive and efficient in addressing the current and future security challenges in Nigeria.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the CAcE, AVM Musibau Olatunji, stated that the Conference, which was last held over 3 years ago, was approved by the CAS because of his belief in and pursuit of self-reliance in aircraft maintenance in the NAF, as encapsulated in one of the key drivers of his vision which is to “Reinforce a culture of self-reliance and prudent management of resources”. He added that the participants and the Theme for the Conference were therefore deliberately selected because the NAF was long overdue to be self-reliant to an appreciable degree in aircraft and armament maintenance, which are pivotal to ensuring availability of serviceable platforms to fulfil the statutory responsibilities of the NAF. He further noted that the present administration had put in significant efforts towards building self-reliance in aircraft/armament maintenance in the NAF. This he said, had been manifested in numerous approvals for engineering training both home and abroad, reactivation of hitherto moribund workshops in engineering units, establishment of the Central Avionics Overhaul and Calibration Centre (CAOCC) and engagement of some resourceful retired Aircraft Engineering personnel and expatriates at intervals to provide mentorship for serving personnel, among others.

On the first day of the Conference, 2 papers were presented. The first paper was “Building Capacity for Self Reliance in Aircraft Engineering Maintenance for Enhanced Operational Efficiency in the NAF” delivered by Air Commodore Abubakar Suleh. The second paper was “Building Capacity in Armament Engineering for Self Reliance Through Innovative Research and Development in the NAF for Enhanced Operational Efficiency”, delivered by Air Commodore Ndubuisi Okoro.

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