There is consensus amongst Nigerians that the country is at war, hence the urgent need by government, military and other security agencies to improve the competence of the fighting force through training and retraining, as well as procure modern military armaments with a view to silencing the enemies of the state to ensure peace and sustainable development, writes our Defence correspondent LINUS ALEKE.
In the past one decade or more, the Nigerian State has fought hard to subjugate bands of terrorists seizing territories in the Northeast and making life unbearable for inhabitants of the six states that make up the geo-political zone and by extension the entire nation.
Regrettably, the northeast is not alone in these barbaric killings and acts of arson against the state, as the Northwest and North Central are also faced with crude and brute bloodletting by armed bandits and marauding herdsmen.
Also, the sessecionists’ agitation in the South East and South West, as well as the resource control conundrum in the South-South have turned the country into multiple theatres of operations and massive killing fields.
However, the Nigerian Government in whose shoulder rests the responsibility of protecting life and property can not be said to be sleeping on duty as the effort of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) whose constitutional role it is to protect the nation’s territorial integrity has also not reneged on this responsibility, though there is room for improvement on what it has been able to accomplish thus far in keeping the nation one.
Complain of lack of modern military hardware to match the firepower of the terrorist and other enemies of the state in the country abounds, however, the Government is doing something to bridge that noticeable gap.
Only last week, the Nigerian Air Force announced through a statement by its spokesperson, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, that the United States of America has finally released the first batch of the long-awaited Super Tucano to Nigeria to boost the fight against insurgency and other sundry criminalities across the Federation.
This good news also comes with some responsibility on the part of the Nigerian Air Force NAF as modern military armaments without skillful manpower amount to effort in futility.
Therefore, there is a need for continued training and retraining of personnel to enable it to undo the enemies who are confronting the state with asymmetric warfare.
It is however on the premise of this reality that the Nigerian Pilot is ex-raying the dichotomy between human skills and military armaments in a war situations.
Some experts believe that modern military armaments without skillful manpower to man them are equal to mere wish without commensurate results.
Validating this proposition, the Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Oladayo Amao said that the most critical airpower capability, that must be enhanced and sustained for effective
and efficient performance is the human being that operates the air platforms.
Air Marshal Amao supported the above proposition at the winging ceremony of 6 new pilots that just completed their flying training in the United Kingdom.
Expressing delight at the winging of another set of new Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helicopter pilots, the Chief of Air Staff said the winging of the six pilots is yet another step towards the actualization of his vision of “enhancing and sustaining critical airpower capabilities required for joint
force employment in pursuit of our national security imperatives”.
He said, “In my view, the most critical airpower capability, that must be enhanced and sustained for effective and efficient performance, is the human being that operates the air platforms. It is against this background that the
‘pursuit of purposeful training and human capacity development’ was specifically selected as one of the key drivers of my Vision.
“Accordingly, we have continued to accord high priority to purposeful training as a major tool for human capacity development. This is based on the premise that, for the NAF to function efficiently, both as a highly technical Service and as a fighting force for the effective defense of Nigeria’s territorial integrity, it must have the right
numerical strength and, more importantly, the right quality of
manpower in all relevant competencies.
“As we speak, many other pilots, as well as personnel from other specialties, are attending various training courses both at home and abroad. These efforts are expected to place the  Service in a dominant position to more effectively deliver on its constitutional role, especially in the light of our involvement in several internal security operations across the country”.
Giving the statistics on those currently undergoing different types of training to enhance the overall performance of the Service, the Chief of Air Staff noted that the NAF has a total of 195 officers and airmen/airwomen undergoing various training courses abroad
cutting across several specialties and trades.
“Out of this number, 4 student pilots are currently undergoing similar helicopter training at Draken Europe Helicopter Academy, United Kingdom, the same institution where the pilots winged today graduated. In the same vein, 4 other student pilots are in the Czech Republic undergoing basic fighter training on the L-39 aircraft, while 5 student pilots are undergoing helicopter training at United States Army Aviation Facility, Fort Rucker, USA.
“Additionally, there are 17 student pilots in South Africa undergoing Basic Transport Pilot Training. There is also an officer undergoing Helicopter Pilot Training in India. Locally, there are 12 student pilots undergoing Basic Fighter Training at 403 FTS, Kano, while 10 others are undergoing Basic Transport Training at 401 FTS, Kaduna. All these courses are aimed at maintaining combat readiness by increasing the number of pilots to man our existing platforms, including the 26 aircraft acquired by the Federal Government in the past 6 years,” he disclosed.
Air Marshal Amao further explained that “The Nigerian Air Force has also continued to build capacity for the several other aircraft types that have been newly acquired and are expected to be delivered before the end of the year. For instance, about 60 NAF personnel, comprising pilots, engineers, technicians, and other specialists, recently completed their training on the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft in the USA. This is in preparation for the arrival of 6 aircraft that departed the United States for Nigeria three days ago. They are expected to arrive in Nigeria before the end of the month.
“The other six are also expected to arrive in Nigeria by September 2021. The overall effect of these efforts is that the
NAF, operating in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies, will be better positioned to more effectively
counter both domestic and foreign threats to the nation’s security and the wellbeing of our people”.
Congratulating the young pilots for successfully completing the training, Air Marshal Amao charged them to be relentless in the pursuit of excellence and professionalism as operational pilots while working with their
colleagues across other specialties in the Service.
He equally counseled them to always strive to imbibe the doctrine of jointness and esprit de corps in the forward lines as they interact with personnel from
sister Services and other security agencies in various theatres of operations nationwide for more enduring results.
Appreciating President Buhari for his continued support to the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) the CAS also commend the Chief of Training and Operations as well as the Director of Training and all others, who played different roles in the training of
these young pilots.
He tasked them to remain totally focused and committed to the successful execution of our constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of our dear nation.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Chief of Training and Operations (NAF), Air Vice Marshal James Gwani said that
the winging was in line with the key drivers of the Chief of the Air Staff, which is to pursue purposeful training and human capacity development.
He said the Nigerian Air Force has spared no effort in ensuring that its personnel is well trained to meet her professional needs.
“Accordingly, this morning we would be witnessing yet another winging ceremony under the administration of the current Chief of the Air Staff has recently conducted a similar event for four pilots on 27 Apr 21. This is an indication of the commitment of the CAS to ensure continuous human capacity development of NAF Personnel through high quality and intensive training cutting across all fields and specialties in the NAF,” he explained.
He disclosed that the pilots that were winged are Flying Officer TE Adebayo and 5 others who recently completed their basic flying training to become helicopter pilots.
AVM Gwani further disclosed that the pilots were trained at Draken Helicopter Academy formerly known as Cobhams Aviation Services in the United Kingdom which also trains helicopter pilots for the UK Armed Forces and other Armed forces like Australia and Saudi Arabia amongst others.
Giving a brief highlight on the flying training course the officers have successfully completed, the Chief of Training and Operations said: “Flying Officer TE Adebayo and 5 others attended the Basic Helicopter Flying Course at the Draken Helicopter Academy in the United Kingdom from 27 Feb 20 to 20 June 21. The training was conducted in 3 phases; Basic Rotary Wing Phase, Operational Rotary Wing Phase, and Conversion Phase. The officers flew an average of 75 hours on the Cabri-G2 helicopter and 16 hours on the Flight Simulator Training Device in the Basic Rotary Wing Phase”.
He revealed that at the end of the first phase which focused on basic helicopter flying techniques, the officers carried out a License skills test and were issued with a Helicopter Private Pilot License.
Giving further details on the training the Chief of Training and Operations (NAF) said, “they then proceeded to the operational rotary-wing phase which covered combat search with rescue patterns, tactical formation, reversionary night flying & night vision goggles, night medium & low-level navigation amongst others. The officers flew an average of 60 hours on the AS-350 Squirrel helicopter as well as two hours Instrument Landing systems on the Bell-412. The final phase of the training which was the AW109E helicopter conversion involved 9 hours of flying. In all, the officers had an average of 150 hours on the Cabri-G2, AS350 Squirrel, Bell 412 and AW109E helicopters”.
On the significance of their training in the ongoing counter-terrorism and anti-banditry operations, AVM Gwani averred: “These young officers have gone through the rigors of flying training, and their presence here today is a testament of the quality of training pursued by the NAF. Furthermore, their inclusion into the pilot’s corps would no doubt boost the strength of pilots especially as the NAF is inducting and expecting more rotary and fixed-wing platforms to embark on daring missions in the face of the various security challenges across the country”.

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