The Nigerian Air Force has finished training two Liberian pilots, the first since the end of that country’s civil war in 2003, and who will now return to Liberia to help establish the Liberia Air Wing.
On 23 August 2007, the Governments of Liberia and Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on military cooperation to rebuild the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
In the MoU, the two officers (Flight Lieutenants Jerreck Jeff Dwanah and Varney Adolphus Sieleaf) were part of eight cadets that departed Liberia in 2007 to undergo a four-year regular degree at the Nigerian Defense Academy in Kaduna. They commenced their pilot training at the Nigerian Air Force 301 Flying Training School in Kaduna, following their graduation as members of 60th Regular Course from the Nigerian Defense Academy in September 2013.
Upon completion of their training, the Liberian government asked for further training. They had their ab-initio flying training at the NAF 401 Flying Training School (FTS) before the NAF facilitated the conduct of their advanced pilot training at the International Aviation College (IAC), Ilorin.
The two pilots received their wings on 16 April. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Liberia, Major General Daniel Ziankahn (Retired), who decorated the newly trained Liberian Armed Forces pilots.
The Minister lauded the NAF for not only facilitating the training of its pilots but also standing side by side with the country during its trying times. “Nigeria contributed troops, provided logistics and equipment and your troops paid the supreme price which helped in restoring peace in Liberia…The Government of Liberia remains indebted to the Federal Republic of Nigeria for your wonderful supports”.
According to the 2008 New Defense Act, section 5.1, the Liberia Air Wing, when activated, will undertake search and rescue missions; provide limited air transportation for the movement of troops and logistics for the AFL; undertake medical evacuation; undertake limited marine patrol over Liberia’s Exclusive Economic Zone and assist those ministries and agencies in times of emergency and natural or man-made disasters, as well as assist in evacuation and logistics movement.
During the ceremony on Monday, Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar said the training of Liberian pilots is “a demonstration of the strong ties between our two countries.” The ceremony was the second wings parade of 2018, bringing the total number of pilots in Nigeria who have received their wings this year to 25.
Additionally, 12 NAF pilots who completed their advanced training from the International Aviation College in Ilorin and the Afrika Union Aviation Academy (AUAA) in South Africa, were winged at the occasion, bringing the total number of pilots produced by the NAF in the last two years to 80.
There are 64 Nigerian student pilots at various stages of flying training in various NAF flying training schools. They are all expected to graduate by the end of this year. In addition to pilots, Abubakar said the Nigerian Air Force is inducting six new helicopters with more on the way.