The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has highlighted its expansion, including personnel and aircraft, during its recent 54th anniversary celebrations.
During the celebrations on 5 May, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the NAF had grown in size and equipment, allowing it to better fulfil its obligations of protecting and defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
He said that under President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership, the NAF since 2015 had received 12 reactivated aircraft and that personnel numbers had grown by 7 500 men and 400 officers. In addition, another two NAF Commands and two new Branches had been established.
“Besides, several new platforms were acquired and inducted into service to meet the evolving security challenges faced by the country”, the CAS added. Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the gap between force projection and force protection had also been substantially bridged with the training of about 1 000 Special Forces. “These forces have been deployed as part of the intervention force to deal with the internal security challenges of the North Central geopolitical zone”, he stated.
He further stated that the commitment of Mr President and the current administration to enhancing Nigeria’s security was clearly exemplified by the recent payment for 10 Super Tucano aircraft to be purchased from the United States of America. The CAS also recollected that the NAF recently took delivery of 10 Super Mushshak aircraft from Pakistan in addition to a total of 4 Mi-35M helicopter gunships from Russia.
The NAF Day celebrations at Kaduna included a display of many aircraft in active service, including the Alpha Jet and L-39ZA trainer/light attack aircraft, F-7Ni fighter, Super Mushshak trainer, King Air 350i and Diamond 42 MPP surveillance aircraft. Other participants included Mi-35M, Super Puma and Bell 412 helicopters as well as the recently inducted indigenous Tsaigumi unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
During the ceremonial parade that preceded the aerial display, newly established Air Training Command (ATC) and Ground Training Command (GTC) were presented with their regimental colours.
Some NAF Special Forces elements were inserted into the venue of the celebration through rappelling from a Super Puma while the Mi-35M helicopter gunship provided simulated air cover. Furthermore, some NAF paratroopers jumped from a C-130 Hercules aircraft.