The Nigerian Air Force has taken delivery of the first two of four AW109 helicopters on order from Italy’s Leonardo Helicopters.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on 22 April said the A109 Power helicopters were unveiled on Monday by Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar during an event in Maiduguri. The helicopters arrived in crates and were being assembled for the upcoming 2019 NAF Day Celebrations, which will take place in Abuja from 27 to 29 April.
Abubakar told soldiers and guests that the NAF, with the support of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the National Assembly, would continue to acquire new platforms and build human capacity whilst ensuring the welfare of personnel, in order to effectively and efficiently respond to national security imperatives, notably Boko Haram terrorists.
Abubakar revealed the delivery of the additional AW109 helicopters in December last year. The Nigerian government has already budgeted for two AW109s but more are likely to be ordered as the government allocates more money in future budgets. In 2018 the government set aside nearly N6 billion ($19 million) for the procurement of two new AW109s, which will join the AW109 LUHs already in service with the Nigerian Air Force and the A109Es in service with the Nigerian Navy. Nigeria also has 12 Mi-35Ms on order, with four already delivered.
Nigeria’s Air Force Day celebrations over the weekend will mark the service’s 55th anniversary and will include a mass flypast, amongst other events. President Muhamadu Buhari is expected to attend.
Ahead of Air Force Day, Air Commodore Nnamdi Ananaba, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 2019 NAF Day Celebrations, said on Tuesday that the NAF will be soon taking delivery of four new A109 Power, one Mi-35M and one AW139 helicopters, as well as 12 Super Tucano light attack/trainer turboprops.
“On acquisition of platforms, the NAF within the last three years has taken delivery of 16 brand new aircraft (10 Super Mushshak, four Mi-35M and two Bell 412 helicopters). Another 18 (four A-109 Power and one Mi-35M, one AW139 helicopter and 12 Super Tucano) are either expected soon or have been paid for and are expected to be inducted into service in 2020.” Unmanned aerial vehicles have also been acquired.
He also said 14 grounded aircraft such as the Falcon 900, ATR-42, Beechcraft, Super Puma, EC-135 Do-228, Mi-35P, F-7 and L-39 had been reactivated.
“There has obviously been a remarkably change, much of which was achieved within the last three and half years. The NAF has winged 90 pilots in the last three years, while 68 others are in training both at home and abroad.
“Over 7 000 personnel have been trained in different specialties and these include over 4 000 regiment personnel and 1 000 Special Forces personnel who have been actively involved in combat operations with the army.
“Through all these, there have been operational gains in several internal security operations in the country,” he stated.
“The NAF has, in the last three and half years, expanded its organisational structure and improved training, thereby building capacity and capability to more effectively deal with Nigeria’s peculiar security challenges such as insurgency, oil theft, banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling, among others, which have caused all security agencies of the country to perform roles beyond their basic scope to complement one another”, he said.