The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has expressed satisfaction with the progress of ongoing infrastructural development projects at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base Kainji, Niger State, which are being emplaced to accommodate the 12 x A-29 Super Tucano aircraft when they arrive Nigeria as well as the NAF personnel that would operate and maintain them. The CAS equally applauded the appreciable level of work on the in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) on 2 Alpha Jet aircraft, NAF 465 and NAF 471, as well as engine recovery efforts being undertaken by the 407 Air Combat Training Group (407 ACTG) Kainji. Air Marshal Abubakar made this known yesterday, 3 November 2020, while on an operational visit to Kainji NAF Base, where he inspected the ongoing construction of 3 blocks of 10 single-bedroom Single Officers’ Quarters (SOQ), one block of 6 x three-bedroom Married Officers’ Quarters (MOQ) as well as a block of 30 x single-bedroom Transit Accommodation for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs).
Speaking after the inspection/assessment tour, the CAS, who was accompanied on the visit by Air Officer Commanding Air Training Command (AOC ATC) and some Branch Chiefs from Headquarters NAF, could not hide his excitement at the commendable pace of work on the PDM and various ongoing projects. He said it was very clear that all hands were on deck to ensure that the NAF has the assets it requires to discharge its assigned tasks. He noted that the significant feature about the Alpha Jet PDM was the fact that it was being done in Nigeria, thereby building the capacity of NAF personnel. The CAS highlighted that the NAF had similarly conducted successful PDM on 2 C-130H aircraft (NAF 913 and 917) in Lagos and was on the verge of commencing the in-country PDM on a third C-130H aircraft.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the NAF had, in the same vein, carried out Life Extension Programme (LEP) on 3 L-39ZA in Kano and would soon commence in-country LEP on another batch of 3 L-39ZA. He remarked that this sort of arrangement had made it possible for the NAF to build the capacity of its personnel whilst also ensuring increased availability of attack helicopters and fighter jets for enhanced air power projection. The CAS also disclosed that similar major maintenance activities had commenced on the F-7 fighter jets in Makurdi. “We have some of our Chinese friends in Makurdi who are supporting us as we work to reactivate the F-7s and very soon those fighter aircraft will be brought back to serviceable status. The whole idea is to mobilize every asset in the NAF in order to utilize them to ensure that Nigeria is secure and its people are safe”, he said.
The CAS therefore commended the AOC ATC, Air Vice Marshal Musa Mukhtar, and the Commander 407 ACTG, Squadron Leader Gambo Maidawa, as well as NAF’s technical partner on the PDM project for their efforts in ensuring that the initiative of looking inwards continues to produce more capable NAF technicians. “You cannot fight effectively while depending on others. You must be able to build internal capacity. That is why, in the area of training of pilots and engineers, we have close to 200 personnel in different countries around the world, who, by the time they return to Nigeria after their various courses will have sufficient capacity to operate and maintain the new aircraft being acquired by the NAF”, he said. Air Marshal Abubakar also disclosed that most of the infrastructure required to accommodate the Super Tucano aircraft would be ready by early December 2020 well ahead of the expected delivery by the second quarter of 2021.