The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is continually striving for high serviceability rates of its aircraft and associated equipment, whilst conserving foreign exchange by enhancing in-country maintenance capabilities, to enable it effectively project Air Power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives. Pursuant to this strategic outlook, the NAF has successfully reactivated 12 units of previously moribund Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE). The repaired equipment include 6 x Jaguar aircraft Ground Power Units (GPUs), one Eagle towing vehicle for Headquarters Air Task Force Maiduguri, one GPU for 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG), Port Harcourt and another GPU for 305 Special Mobility Group (305 SMG), Calabar. Others include one 15-ton Henley forklift, one 3.6-Ton UNIMOG crane and a Jaguar aircraft hydraulic cart. The equipment, which were reactivated locally by 131 Engineering Group (131 Engr Gp) Makurdi, through the Unit’s Research and Development (R&D) efforts, were commissioned today, 23 September 2020, by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
While in Makurdi, the CAS also commissioned a newly reactivated One Million litre Bulk Fuel Installation (BFI) Facility, which had been upgraded with additional functional and safety features, including an automatic sprinkler system for enhanced fire safety. The CAS equally unveiled Fire Tender and Runway Sweeper vehicles reactivated by the 101 Air Defence Group (101 ADG) and inspected ongoing R&D projects, including a handheld single rocket launcher and 6-tube rocket launcher, being jointly executed by the 131 Engr Group and the 633 Central Armament Depot (633 CAD) Makurdi before commissioning a newly constructed Runway Supervision Unit (RSU) at the Makurdi Airfield.
Speaking during the commissioning and functional demonstration of the reactivated equipment, a visibly delighted CAS, stated that he was excited with what had been achieved by 131 Engr Gp. He said it had always been his belief that, with a bit of effort, most of what may have been discarded as Beyond Economic Repair (BER) could be brought back to serviceable status. According to him, “at this time of scarcity of resources and increased competition for those scarce resources, the best we can have is what we have witnessed here today”. He expressed excitement that some of the equipment would be deployed to the North East and other conflict areas to support the conduct of air operations. He further noted that the local reactivation of the equipment had saved the NAF, and indeed the Nation, huge amounts of foreign exchange, which ordinarily would need to be sourced to buy such equipment from abroad. He added that the NAF would continue to leverage R&D as well as innovative technologies to enhance its operations, while continuing to seek collaborative partnerships. Air Marshal Abubakar therefore commended the Commander 131 Engr Gp, Air Commodore Pam Chollom, and all personnel of the Unit for their hard work and dedication to duty. While encouraging other Units to take a queue from 131 Engr Gp, the CAS also applauded the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command (AOC TAC), Air Vice Marshal Olusegun Philip, for his leadership in ensuring the realization of the various accomplishments.
In his welcome remarks, the AOC TAC stated that the event was a landmark occasion and a manifestation of the sterling leadership qualities of the CAS, which had been the major motivation for the achievements recorded by the Command. The reactivation of the equipment, he noted, would add value to the NAF’s maintenance efforts not only in Makurdi but also in other NAF Units across the Country as the equipment would come in handy for the conduct of maintenance activities on the F/FT-7Ni aircraft and the soon to be inducted JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft. The AOC appreciated the unwavering support of the CAS to Units under TAC and also commended the Commander 131 Engr Gp and his personnel for their hardwork and dedication to duty, while encouraging them to not to rest on their oars.
Earlier on, the CAS had delivered a lecture to participants of Course 6 of the Air Force War College (AFWC) in Makurdi, as part of the Strategic Leadership Module of the Course. In the lecture, titled “Nigerian Air Force Operational Challenges and Future Prospects”, Air Marshal Abubakar highlighted the achievements of the NAF in the past 5 years in areas of expansion of its organizational structure, comprehensive human capacity development, aircraft acquisition and maintenance as well as robust logistics support and R&D. The CAS also highlighted some of the operational challenges encountered while enumerating strategies to overcome them and discussing future prospects.
The AFWC was established in 2016 to develop the capacity of senior officers of the rank of Wing Commander and equivalent in the effective employment of Air Power and efficient utilization of Air Power concepts and strategy while preparing them for higher leadership positions.