The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has recorded another feat in the area of Research and Development (R & D) as it has successfully fabricated a GTCP85 Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) Test Stand for the C-130H aircraft fleet. The local production of this Ground Support Equipment (GSE), carried out by personnel at 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot (631 ACMD) Ikeja, is another innovative project that would facilitate the operations of the C-130H fleet, thereby enhancing its availability for logistics missions. The feat is coming barely a month after the successful local production of the hydraulic diaphragm for the L-39ZA aircraft fleet at the 403 Flying Training School, Kano.

Speaking while commissioning the APU at the 631 ACMD today, 2 December 2019, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that the NAF had continued to develop human capacity through robust and result oriented training that has in turn had tremendous impact on its R&D efforts to develop indigenous technological solutions to engineering and technical problems. He said, in a bid to ensure the continued development of local capacity, the NAF has entered into partnerships with a host of local and international organizations as well as academic institutions, including some Nigerian Universities. He said the local production of the APU Test Stand was a product of these initiatives and was in line with the commitment to reinforce the culture of self-reliance through R&D.

The CAS therefore commended the Commander 631 ACMD, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Moses Onilede and his team for a job well done. “I am equally happy to note that the equipment stands out among its kind. The use of this equipment will save the nation huge foreign exchange and has equally repositioned the Depot for better service delivery. It is quite important to state that our modest accomplishments so far have greatly enhanced the serviceability of our aircraft holding, thereby enabling us to project Air Power not only within our country but also beyond the shores of Nigeria. The NAF thus stands ready to continue to fulfill its primary responsibility whilst also providing aid to civil authority in whatever roles that may from time to time be required,” he assured.

Air Marshal Abubakar also implored aircraft engineers not to rest on their oars but to continuously conduct research so as to keep pace with technological advancements in the world with a view to providing solutions to various challenges. “You would agree with me that the world is ever-evolving, and that engineers play a critical role in providing technological solutions to societal problems. Engineers are therefore expected to work extra hard to provide innovative solutions to make things happen by exploring a good mix of knowledge with innovative ideas and creativity”, he said. While thanking the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, the CAS stated that the various achievements recorded by the NAF over the years would not have been possible without the enabling environment and resources provided by the Federal Government.

It would be recalled that upon the passing of the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Bill and establishment of the Air Force Research and Development Centre (AFRDC), the number of NAF’s successful R &D breakthroughs has continued to increase. For instance, the NAF was able to design and produce the first indigenous operational Unmanned Aerial Vehicle named ‘Tsaigumi’. The NAF also acquired patent rights for the production of Hydraulic Accumulation Diaphragm, which is a critical item required to operate the Mi-35 helicopter gunship thereby boosting NAF operational capabilities in the North East. Weaponization of some A-Jet aircraft, L-39ZA, Bell 412, Agusta 109LUH, Mi-17 and EC-135 helicopters for deployment in the ground attack role were also successfully carried out. Moreover, the Design and production of a test bench for the Alpha Jet anti-skid system in collaboration with the University of Maiduguri as well as the local repair of Alpha Jet Engines by NAF Technicians are some of the giant leaps the NAF had taken to conserve foreign exchange while ensuring maintenance of capacity to perform the critical role of conducting air operations in support of surface forces and in response to national security imperatives.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Commander 631 ACMD disclosed that the APU test stand was fabricated by personnel who were trained on equipment at the reactivated Machine Tools and Structural Repair Workshops of the Unit. According to him, the APU test stand is a unique Aircraft GSE designed to serve many purposes such as ground power unit to supply electrical power for the aircraft, air cart to produce bleed air to start aircraft engines as well as test the C-130 generator. AVM Onilede further disclosed that, with the Test stand, the capacity of 631 ACMD to maintain and repair the APU has been greatly enhanced. The APU Test stand, the Commander said, has been used to repair one unserviceable APU in the Unit. He said most of the parts used to fabricate the test stand were sourced locally while those requiring machining were machined in the reactivated Machine Tools Workshop without any foreign assistance. The Team that fabricated the APU was composed mainly of young officers led by Flight Lieutenants Olajide Oyekunle and Gabriel Onoh.

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