By Sani Idris
President Muhammadu Buhari has inducted MI-171E combat helicopter and commissioned a reactivated Alpha jet L39ZA in Kaduna.
Speaking at a virtual conference on Thursday, Buhari said that the induction and reactivation would boost the operational capacity of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
Buhari recalled that in February, he had commissioned two Augusta-109 power attack helicopters and one MI-171E helicopter that were inducted into the NAF inventory to boost operational capacity.
He said that the induction ceremony marked the 23rd new aircraft that had been added to the inventory of the NAF since the beginning of the present administration in 2015.
“This is a clear reflection of our commitment towards ensuring the security of Nigeria and Nigerians”, he said.
He noted that the 23 aircraft were aside the 15 additional aircraft comprising 12 super tucanoes from U S and 3 JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role fighter aircraft from Pakistan that had been procured and would soon be delivered.
According to him, the platforms have contributed immensely to the NAF successes against insurgents and bandits in recent engagements.
He also said that the platforms had boosted the capacity of the service to deliver robust air power in support of his administration on counter- terrorism and counter-insurgency.
“We remain unyielding in confronting the Boko Haram insurgency as well as other forms of criminality that have bedevilled our country,” Buhari said.
In his remarks, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, stated the achievement of the NAF since his assumption.
He said that for the past decade, Nigeria had endured national security challenges that had manifested in terrorism, insurgency and banditry.
He added that the NAF, in concert with other security agencies, had vigorously confronted the myriads of threats to ensure that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria were not undermined.
He noted that the NAF acquisitions of the new platforms would have a game-changing impact on the NAF capacity for training and operational effectiveness.
“The new aircraft acquired over the last five years of the current administration have significantly boosted the capacity of the NAF,” said.
Abubakar stressed that the acquisitions of the new platforms had contributed significantly in improving the security situation in the north eastern and north western part of the country.
He thanked the president for his support and reaffirmed the NAF’s loyalty and readiness to relentlessly work for the protection of the country.
“We will never relent in our national commitment to defeat and deter those who aim to undermine our peace, prosperity, unity and freedom,” he said.
He also appreciated the support of the National Assembly, the Senate and House Committees on Air Force as well as the Ministry of Defence for the successes they had achieved, seeking their continued support to forge ahead.
Also speaking, the Minister of Defence, Retired Maj.Maj. Bashir Magashi, said that the acquisition and induction of the 23 new platforms since 2015, among other achievements, was a giant stride.
“This is a testament to president’s resolve towards providing necessary equipment required to combat contemporary security challenges facing the nation”, he said.
He reminded the NAF personnel that the aircraft being inducted and commissioned took large sums of money to purchase.
He congratulated the Chief of the Air Staff and his team for recording the feat.
He encouraged all the officers of the NAF to continue to align their individual and collective actions with the vision of the present administration. (NAN)