The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has graduated another batch of pilots whilst it continues to train nearly 200 officers and airmen around the world, including in South Africa.
At the end of January, the NAF winged seven additional NAF pilots; six of whom recently completed their Basic and Intermediate Fixed Wing Training at 403 Flying Training School, Kano while the seventh completed his training with the Indian Air Force.
Speaking on the winging of new pilots, outgoing NAF Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, highlighted that several NAF personnel had been trained in various specialties, with many others currently undergoing training both within and outside the country. He also noted that, from July 2015 to date, the NAF has winged 124 pilots comprising 76 pilots who completed their training in foreign institutions and 48 who had trained in local institutions. He further disclosed that with the winging of the seven additional pilots, the total number of pilots trained by the current Nigerian Air Force administration stands at 131, which constitutes 49.6 per cent of the total strength of NAF active pilots.
The CAS added that the seven pilots who completed basic fighter pilot training are a testament of NAF’s deliberate efforts at training fighter pilots to man the fighter platforms in its inventory as well as those expected to be received in the nearest future, consequently, placing the NAF at a dominant position to deliver on its constitutional role, especially at this time when the nation is facing numerous security challenges.
Abubakar further disclosed that, at present, the NAF has a total of 193 officers and airmen/airwomen undergoing training abroad cutting across several specialties and trades. “Out of this number”, the CAS said, “two pilots are currently undergoing Undergraduate Pilot Training with the United States Air Force, while four student pilots are in the Czech Republic undergoing Basic Fighter Training on the L-39 aircraft. In the same vein, four pilots are undergoing helicopter training at the United States Army Aviation, while another four have been processed to join up in the coming days”.
Nine pilots were in the United Kingdom undergoing Basic Helicopter Pilot Training. The CAS also highlighted that another nine personnel were in South Africa undergoing Basic Fixed Wing Pilot Training.
According to him, “it is pertinent to highlight that notwithstanding these achievements, the NAF cannot afford to rest on its oars at training her personnel for combat readiness in the face of current security challenges”.