The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has officially inducted into service the first of two Bell 412 helicopters that had earlier been impounded by customs.
NAF Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, inducted the first Bell 412 into service during a ceremony on 1 November, according to the NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI).
The two helicopters were handed over to the NAF on 27 January this year 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 NAF said that as the helicopters had been partially disassembled in containers for around two years at the time of handover, the aircraft’s major systems and cameras had to be sent to the United States and Canada for overhaul and repair in order to be airworthy.
“The helicopter’s major systems were later reassembled at the NAF’s 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot (ACMD) at Ikeja thereby providing an opportunity for the attachment of NAF engineers and technicians towards further building their technical capacities. The second Bell 412 Helicopter is still undergoing reactivation at 631 ACMD and would be inducted into the NAF immediately after reactivation,” the NAF said.
The new helicopter will be deployed to the Northeast as part of the efforts to strengthen the counterterrorism campaign against Boko Haram.
Abubakar pointed out the Bell 412 comes with a surveillance camera with night capability. He added that the NAF had already trained its pilots, engineers and technicians to operate and maintain the new helicopter. Furthermore, arrangements have been made to ensure the availability of spares and ground support equipment.
The NAF has partnered with Africair on the maintenance, repair and support of the Bell 412s. During the induction ceremony, Abubakar was brought up to speed on efforts to extend the service life of one of the NAF’s C-130 transports and the inspection of one of the ATR 42 surveillance aircraft being facilitated by Overland Airways.