NAF to recruit 2, 000 personnel, more aircrafts

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Nigerian Air Force, NAF has disclosed plan to recruit another 2, 000 Airmen and women this year in addition to the 7, 693 personnel recently engaged to boost the Force’s support to the nation’s security.

Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique, who announced this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Air Force chaired by Senator Duro Faseyi, PDP-Ekiti North for 2019 budget defence of the security outfit, said a C-130H aircraft and two Augusta 109 power helicopters would also be acquired to boost its fleet very soon.

Sadique said NAF had commissioned a total of 669 officers, adding that 206 of the personnel are presently undergoing training to prepare them for the task of safeguarding the nation’s territorial integrity.

He added that the Air Force has acquired 22 new aircrafts, reactivated 13 erstwhile unserviceable ones while eight others are currently being overhauled in a bid to enhance its operations to adequately support both the internal and external security challenges confronting the nation.

“NAF is also about to take delivery of two Augusta 109 power helicopters which were appropriated by this committee and another M1-35M gunship helicopter.

“We would also take delivery of a C-130H aircraft in a few weeks after an In-country Ranodic Depot Maintenance”, he revealed.

Sadique informed that the Muhammadu Buhari administration, with the support of National Assembly, “has increased the serviceability status of NAF aircrafts from about 40℅ to an average of 80℅ today”.

“The improved status enabled us to carry out over 43, 000 sorties of about 57, 000 flying hours between January 15 and February 18 for various operations.

“These include 20, 140 flying hours for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance that enabled NAF to gather real time information to assist surface forces and NAF aircrafts to carry out precise attacks if necessary”, he stressed.

He added that the Force has created new commands and units all over the country as well as special operations command in addition to air and group training command in Enugu.

“We have also enhanced our force projection and force protection through the training of about 4, 000 regiment personnel and over 1, 000 special forces personnel locally and abroad”, he added.

The Chief of Air Staff, who also disclosed that NAF assisted the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to airlift about 692 tonnes of electoral materials to 31 different locations during the just concluded general elections, said the Force “is constitutionally vested with protecting the territorial integrity of the nation and assisting the civil authority when called upon”.

Accordingly, he said NAF has been actively engaged in combating several security challenges bedeviling the country, including terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry and militancy, among others.

Earlier, chairman of the Senate Committee on Air Force, Senator Duro Faseyi, described NAF as a very expensive Force and hailed its contribution to tackling security challenges in the country.

He, however, linked its achievements to mutual cooperation with the National Assembly, especially the passage and assent of the Air Force Institute of Technology of Nigeria (Establishment), AFIT Bill, 2017 which he noted has brought relief to NAF.

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