Nigerian Air Force returns refurbished C-130 to service


The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) has recommissioned a refurbished Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport aircraft back into service where it will be deployed to airlift troops and military supplies to battle zones in the north and north-east as part of efforts to contain the Boko Haram insurgency.

The aircraft was recommissioned last week in Lagos by NAF Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshall Olutayo Oguntoyinbo. “The C-130 is a force multiplier because it will do the work of a thousand men. It…will assist in moving men and materials to the theatre of operations….It will be deployed to join other machines of the NAF fleet which are currently operating from various points around the country from where we launch them to the war front,” he said.

He added that the C-130 will be used to transport election materials around the country during the 2015 general elections.

The aircraft was recommissioned after a C-check inspection by engineers and technicians from the NAF’s 401 Aircraft Maintenance Depot in Lagos and French aviation company Sabena Technics.

A C-check is an intensive process, and is usually only done every 12-20 months or after a certain number of flight hours are flown, usually between four and six thousand for most aircraft. Tasks include inspecting all operational systems, cleaning and servicing and conducting minor structural inspections. A C-check may take a couple of weeks as well as several thousand man-hours of labour.

Oguntoyinbo said several other aircraft that were in a state of disrepair are being resuscitated at the 401 Aircraft Maintenance Depot. “Already we have the G.222, Super Puma and many other aircraft types which are undergoing maintenance and will be deployed as soon as it is done.”

He said doing aircraft maintenance work locally helps the Air Force cut costs and save millions of dollars while contributing to the development of local skills and experience.

In September last year the Nigerian Air Force inducted back into a locally refurbished C-130 and nine Alpha Jets. These were refurbished by Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited (AETSL), a subsidiary of the Nigerian Air Force Holdings Company, while the C-130 was refurbished with the assistance of Sabena Technics.

The Nigerian Air Force has over the past several years been allocated funding to refurbish many of its aircraft, notably its C-130s and Aeritalia G.222 transports. In February 2009 the Nigerian government asked the United States for assistance in refurbishing five of its eight surviving C-130Hs. One of the C-130s was duly put through a $9.2 million Programmed Depot Maintenance process in Lisbon, Portugal and officially handed over to the Nigerian Air Force on January 26, 2011. That same year another C-130H was sent to Marshall Aerospace in the United Kingdom for refurbishment. It began test flights in April this year.

The C-130 fleet is more than three decades old and by 2009 only one example was flying. Nigeria originally received six C-130s three decades ago and another three C-130H-30s a decade later, but one C-130 crashed on September 29, 1992, killing at least 160.

Meanwhile, Nigerian military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade has confirmed a Nigerian Air force helicopter crash-landed while on a resupply missions to troops fighting Boko Haram in the war-torn north of the country.

He said there were no casualties when the ‘American-made’ helicopter came down minutes after take-off from the Yola International Airport. He said the aircraft was forced to execute a controlled but forced landing.
“There were no casualties and all the crew members have been recovered and taken back to base. The Nigerian Air force Headquarters has already set up an investigative panel to unravel the circumstances leading to the incident.”

The incident comes two months after the disappearance of a NAF Alpha jet which is believed to have crashed while carrying out bombing raids in Boko Haram held territory.

Although Boko Haram militants claim to have shot down the plane, captured and beheaded one of the two missing pilots, the air force says it still considers the plane as missing and will continue to search for it.