The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has graduated another 29 student pilots as part of its expansion efforts amidst the ongoing war against insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality in the country.
The 29 student pilots graduated on 10 September after completing their ab initio flying training at 401 Flying Training School (FTS) at Kaduna. The graduating students are members of 66 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and comprise 27 male and 2 female officers. They commenced training as flight cadets on 7 January 2019 as members of Student Pilots Course 46 (SP 46).
With the most recent graduation, the NAF has successfully graduated 145 student pilots from 401 FTS in the last five years.
Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, noted that the pilots had successfully conducted their flying training on both the Diamond DA40 and Super Mushshak aircraft types, which according to him, was a positive deviation from what was obtainable in the past.
He said that at the inception of his administration in 2015, 401 FTS had only three Diamond DA40 platforms for flying training. The grossly inadequate number and the unsuitability of the platform for aerobatics and other unusual manoeuvres, he said, significantly diminished the ability of the NAF to conduct military flying training. “Today, we have 15 platforms with a wide range of capabilities enabling quality training. This has empowered 401 FTS to train a total of 145 student pilots from the end of 2015 to date. Additionally, 24 Instructor Pilots and 15 UAV pilots have also been trained within the same period. These numbers represent the attainment of a remarkable feat that had previously eluded the NAF”, he said.
The CAS also thanked the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his continued support of the NAF. He noted that the timely provision of air assets as well as the resources to buy spares, aviation fuel and other consumables was the most important factor that has translated into the commendable achievements recorded by the service.
Abubakar said the NAF’s ability to wing new pilots in the last five years has helped in with counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts in the North East as well as the fight against armed banditry in the North West and North Central Zones of the country.
Air Commodore Ahmed Idris, Commander 401 FTS, said that alongside the training of student pilots, the Unit is also actively involved in airlift/VIP flights as well as Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of Operations Thunder Strike and Hadarin Daji against armed bandits.