Nigerian Air Force graduates yet more pilots


The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has graduated another set of six pilots in tactical and basic flying, weeks after graduating 29 student pilots as it continues to expand its personnel and capabilities.

The NAF said the latest graduation ceremony took place on 29 September and comprised two pilots of the Tactical Flying Course 24 (Batch B), and four student pilots of the Basic Flying Course 19 (Batch A). Among the graduates awarded Limited Combat Rating Certificate after completing the Tactical Flying Course on the Alpha Jet aircraft was the first female fixed-wing fighter pilot in the history of the NAF, Flying Officer Kafayat Sanni.

In his remarks at the graduation ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, noted that human capacity development has received much attention since he assumed office. “This is evident in the number of personnel that have been trained in various courses, both locally and overseas. Indeed, today’s graduation brings the total number of new pilots winged since 2015 to 118, and by the end of 2020, the NAF would have completed the training and winging of 139 pilots.

“These pilots have continued to add value to the efforts of the service in dealing with security challenges in the North East, North West and other parts of the country,” he said. The CAS further stated that while a good number of NAF officers were undergoing various pilot training courses outside the country, the indigenous training institutions had continued to play a crucial role towards the attainment of the NAF’s capacity building initiatives. He expressed satisfaction that 403 Flying Training School, Kano and 407 Air Combat Training Group, Kainji, where the graduates were trained, had continued to set the pace in the provision of high-quality fighter pilot training.

The CAS expressed particular delight that Flying Officer Sanni, who was decorated with her pilot wings as the first female fixed-wing fighter pilot in the history of the NAF on 15 October 2019, had made history yet again, by successfully completing the Tactical Flying Training on the Alpha Jet aircraft.

He noted that Sanni and her colleagues were now better trained and prepared to be deployed for combat missions in the ongoing counter-insurgency air operations in the North-East and other parts of the country. “You will go down in the history of our Nation as the first female fixed-wing fighter pilot to undertake combat missions in defence of our freedom and sacred values. You will be undertaking combat missions to assert our right to our territory and protect the lives and property of our people”, the CAS added.

Air Marshal Abubakar further noted that the NAF’s ability to effectively and efficiently project Air Power has also been significantly enhanced by the Federal Government’s support in the areas of platforms acquisition and reactivation as well as training and approval to expand NAF’s field units.

Air Officer Commanding Air Training Command (AOC ATC), AVM Musa Mukhtar, stated that the Basic Flying Course 24B, which commenced in March 2019, comprised two phases; the ground academics and flying training phases. He noted that the ground academics phase lasted 14 weeks, covering subjects such as Aerospace Physiology, Aircraft System and Aircraft Operation Orders, amongst others. Areas covered in the flying training phase, which required each student to fly an average of 130 sorties, included General Handling, Instrument Flying, Navigation as well as Night and Formation Flying.

He remarked that the Tactical Flying Course 19A, which lasted 18 Months, was also conducted in 2 phases, the Conversion and Tactical phases, covering Air to Ground Weapons Delivery Theory, Tactical Deliveries and Mission Planning, amongst others, with each trainee flying 35 and 40 hours in each phase, respectively.