The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, has underscored the importance of Research and Development in enhancing Nigerian Air Force (NAF) operational effectiveness. He also stressed that cultivating indigenous capacity to manufacture and service platforms is essential to surmounting some of the constraints experienced in aircraft maintenance. Air Marshal Abubakar delivered these insights during the NAF Inter-Command Research and Development Competition, held earlier today, 18 May 2024, at NAF Base, Bill Clinton Drive, Abuja as part of activities lined up in commemoration of NAF's 60th Anniversary Celebrations.

Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar went down memory lane to recount a poignant moment in NAF's history where, after acquiring 18 Jaguar aircraft in 1984, the entire fleet became grounded 7 years later with some having as little as 150 hours of total flight time majorly due to lack of spares or technical know-how. He went further to lament a similar fate with the MiG 21 aircraft, procured in 1975 and later retired in the late 1980s, with flight hours ranging from 43hrs to 469hrs. These premature retirements, he noted, underscored NAF's struggle to sustain operations due to technical shortcomings, echoing challenges in maintaining aircraft weaponry and other critical equipment. "This, once more," declared the CAS, "highlights the indispensable role of Research and Development in NAF's operations." 

The CAS then went on to highlight NAF’s distinction as a trailblazer in research and development endeavours. According to him, "With the production of the Tsaigumi UAV to pioneering advancements like rocket launchers, heat shields and weaponization of Alpha Jet aircraft, the NAF has consistently showcased its competence in Research and Development innovations. These achievements have ensured the readiness and deployment of NAF platforms and equipment across operational theaters." Recognizing the paramount importance of Research and Development, Air Marshal Abubakar, announced that he had approved the installation of 8 diverse CNC machines at the Air Force Force Research and Development Centre in Osogbo. He also added that the NAF was on the verge of signing a technology transfer agreement with a company in Europe for the production of the 57mm rocket armament. According to him, “These endeavors epitomize our commitment to prioritizing Research and Development, leveraging state-of-the-art technology, strategic partnerships, and lessons learned, in alignment with my command philosophy."

In his opening address, the Chief of Standard and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal MN Onyebashi, elucidated the competition's purpose which he says was to showcase innovative solutions addressing operational, maintenance, and service-related challenges within the NAF.

The occasion was graced by Branch Chiefs, senior officers from the Nigerian Army, Navy and NAF as well as participants from NAF Commands across the country.


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