Nigerian Air Force returns another Mi-35 helicopter to service


The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has returned another Mi-35P attack helicopter to service after it was locally refurbished.

The aircraft (NAF 530) was commissioned during a ceremony at the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) in Port Harcourt on 17 April, marking the second Mi-35P to be locally refurbished. The NAF said the Mi-35P NAF 530 had been unserviceable since June 2016, with repair work starting from 2018.

Mi-35P NAF 531 was returned to service in May 2018.

The commissioning ceremony came less than a month after the NAF locally reactivated Alpha Jet NAF 455 at the 407 Air Combat Training Group, Kainji.

The event on 17 April also featured the formal commissioning of a Tailoring Workshop constructed by NAF Investment Limited (NAFIL), which, since it began operation on 3 April has already produced close to 40 000 face masks and 450 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits to assist in battling the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In his remarks at the commissioning ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said he was delighted to witness the formal re-induction into service of NAF 530, noting that the successful in-country reactivation was an indication that the NAF has made significant progress in building its in-house aircraft maintenance capacity. He observed that, in the past, most of such major maintenance activities were done abroad, at considerably higher cost. He noted, however, that since 2015, the NAF had conducted in-Country reactivation/Periodic Depot Maintenance on a number of aircraft types in its inventory including the C-130H aircraft in Lagos, the Alpha Jets in Kainji as well as the L-39ZA in Kano.

Abubakar said that, in all, 23 formerly unserviceable aircraft had been restored to flyable condition.

Abubakar congratulated the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Tactical Air Command (TAC) as well as the officers, airmen/airwomen and civilian staff of 115 SOG who took part in the in-country reactivation of NAF 530. He commended the Managing Director (MD) NAFIL for his determination in ensuring that the Company achieves its mandate.

While delivering his welcome address, the AOC TAC, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Olusegun Philip, stated that the completion of the reactivation had not only given the NAF engineers and technicians the required skills in the maintenance of the platform, but also augmented the number of available helicopters in the fight against insurgency and other criminal activities in Nigeria.

Abubakar said that the NAF is due to take delivery of 16 new aircraft, including a second Mi-171E helicopter as well as 3 JF-17 multi-role fighters from Pakistan and 12 A-29 Super Tucanos from the United States.