The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commissioned into service the second and final Bell 412 helicopter previously impounded by customs, and reactivated a machine tools workshop.
The helicopter was commissioned in a ceremony on 19 January, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, said in a statement.
As with the first helicopter, which was inducted into service on 1 November 2017, the aircraft’s major systems and its surveillance cameras had to be sent to the United States and Canada for overhaul and repair to be restored to airworthiness, having been in containers for about two years as at the time of the handover. The helicopter’s major systems were later reassembled at the NAF’s 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot (ACMD) Ikeja by a combined team of foreign experts as well as NAF engineers and technicians.
The two helicopters were handed over to the NAF on 27 January 2017 after they were seized on 7 November 2016 when the importer could not produce end user certificates. They were originally destined for Rivers State to protect oil and gas facilities and were equipped with night vision equipment, armour plating and cameras. They were supposed to bypass import duties. The new helicopter will be deployed to the Northeast as part of the efforts to strengthen the counterterrorism campaign against Boko Haram.
Also on 19 January the NAF commissioned the newly reactivated Machine Tools Workshop at 631 ACMD. According to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, the reactivation of the workshop, which was effectively operated last in the early 1980s, is in line with his vision of building the required capacity in the NAF. According to him, that is why the NAF had reactivated a similar workshop at 131 Engineering Group in Makurdi while another at 431 Engineering Group in Kaduna was being reactivated. H
The workshop was reactivated by NAF personnel in partnership with experts from the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID). Abubakar added that the reactivation was accomplished at a minimal cost compared with millions of dollars being quoted by foreign vendors.
20 NAF personnel have been nominated for the Intermediate Machine Tools Course to operate and maintain the equipment in the workshop. Abubakar said the reactivated machines could be used for structural repairs on the C-130 and the fabrication of some tools required for the day-to-day maintenance of the C-130.
Abubakar and General Gabriel Olonisakin, the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), alongside other dignitaries, later inspected the ongoing Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) of a C-130H at 631 ACMD Ikeja. The PDM is being facilitated by experts from Sabena Technics of France who are working with NAF engineers and technicians, as part of efforts at technical capacity building in the NAF.
“It is noteworthy that the decision to conduct the PDM locally has resulted in huge cost saving for the NAF. This is because freight costs, payment of estacode allowance, exorbitant overseas labour costs and other costs associated with ferrying the aircraft for PDM overseas, have been eliminated,” the NAF said.