Why NAF developed indigenous capacity to support its operations – CAS

Why NAF developed indigenous capacity to support its operations – CAS
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By Sumaila Ogbaje

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), says it has reinvigorated the development of indigenous capacity for innovation and development of products to effectively support its operations through Research and Development (R&D).

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, stated this at the NAF Inter-Command R&D competition in commemoration of its 60th Anniversary Celebration, on Saturday in Abuja.

Abubakar said that R&D played critical role in enhancing NAF operational effectiveness, adding that it was the fourth key enabler of his command philosophy.

According to him, it is a common knowledge that NAF utilises sophisticated platforms, weapons and equipment to achieve its operational mandate.

He said that major repairs and overhaul of those platforms, weapons and equipment were mostly carried out overseas by the Original Equipment Manufacturers at a very exorbitant cost.

The CAS said most spares and equipment were non-off the shelf items, adding that there was no guarantee of obtaining them when required.

“Meanwhile, the enemy does not wait for us to be ready since our difficulty is to his advantage.

“The highlighted situation underscores the need to develop indigenous capacity for innovation and development of products that can effectively support NAF operations if we must fulfil our mandate,” he said.

Abubakar recalled how NAF acquired 18 Jaguar aircraft fleet in 1984 and were retired from service with some of the aircraft having as low as 150hrs as total flown hours by 1991, adding that the same challenge trailed the operation of the MiG 21 aircraft.

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He said that a total of 31 aircrafts were acquired by 1975 and retired in the late 1980s with total flown hours ranging between 43hrs – 469hrs.

“This early retirement of the platforms indicates the inability of the NAF to sustain their operations due to lack of technical capacity.

“Similar challenges are also experienced in maintaining aircraft weapons and other critical equipment in the NAF.

“It is only by developing indigenous capacity to maintain our platforms by ourselves or produce them that we can overcome the challenges posed by the present restrictions.

“This again emphasizes the critical place of R&D in NAF operations,” he said.

The CAS said NAF had prided itself as pace setter in R&D among the services with development of Tsai Gumi UAV, rocket launchers, heat shields, weaponisation of Alpha Jet aircraft, retrofitting of U/S rockets, production of blank firing adapters for CAK-103, among others.

These feats, he said, ensured that NAF platforms and equipment were serviceable and deployed at the various theatres of operation.

“In recognition of the vital place of R&D, I approved the installation of 8 assorted CNC machines at the AFRDC Osogbo.

“Furthermore, the contract for the operationalisation of Tsai Gumi UAV with UA Vision of Portugal was recently signed.

“The activation of the contract will see the resumption of partnership on the Tsai UAV project up to operational stage.

“On the aspect of aircraft armament, the NAF is at the verge of signing technology transfer agreement with Messrs Zenith Prom of Serbia on technology transfer of 57mm rocket.

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“These efforts are geared toward prioritising R&D, leveraging cutting edge technology, strategic partnership and lessons learnt in line with my command philosophy,” he added.

Earlier, the Chief of Standard and Evaluation (NAF), AVM Michael Onyebashi, said that the NAF being a technology driven organisation had placed high premium on R&D.

Onyebashi said the air force introduced annual R&D competition at the command and unit levels to further promote the noble idea and ensure its actualisation.

He said the objective of the competition was to showcase each command’s innovative idea towards finding solution to operational, maintenance and other service related problems in the NAF.

According to him, it has become necessary for the NAF to provide some of her defence equipment and system needs through innovative knowledge and skills aimed at sustaining its operations across the country.

He said that six commands would be participating in the competition represented by three units each with the best R&D projects. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Chioma Ugboma/Rabiu Sani-Ali

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