The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has disclosed that one of the two helicopters that were seized by the Federal Government from the Rivers State government would be deployed to the north east to combat Boko Haram.
The copter which has been refurbished, according to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, stated on Wednesday in Lagos explained that its deployment would assist the military’s war against insurgency.
The CAS disclosed this at the induction of the Bell 412 Utility Helicopter into the service’s fleet at 631 Aircralt Maintainance Depot, Ikeja in Lagos.
While explaining the overhauling system, Abubakar said that the helicopter was refurbished in the country noting that its engines, surveillance cameras, main rotor transmissions, were imported from the United States and Canada.
“We have inducted into the NAF inventory, one of the two handed over Bell 412 helicopters. The two helicopters were seized by the Government and transferred to the Nigerian Air Force.
“At the time of transfer, the helicopters had been in containers for about two years. This necessitated an overhaul of its major components such as the engines, main rotor transmissions, and repair of surveillance cameras amongst other items.
He further explained that the second helicopter is also been worked on and would be inducted as soon the overhaul is completed.
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“The induction of these air assets will boost the NAF’s operational standing, free other Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets to be dedicated to operational theatres, and also save cost occasioned by the reduction in maintenance hours of air assets due to re-rolling.
“It is also gratifying to note that the repair and maintenance was used to give our technicians the opportunity to build capacity.
“To be effective in the increased threat environment posed by contemporary security challenges, the NAF must possess the capacity and capability to project power across and within its operational theatres of engagement.
With array of features, the 13 passenger copter has two crew rotary wing aircraft. Others include night vision capability camera for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance operations.
Abubakar said, “The helicopter is suitable for deployment in hostile environments and can also be employed as a combat utility helicopter for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations as well as VIP transportation.
“Given the Nigerian Air Force pivotal role in the ongoing counter terrorism, counter insurgency operations and other internal security operations across the country, these platforms could not have come at a better time than now.
“Already, the service has trained pilots, engineers and technicians to take command and ensure optimal operations of the aircraft. While training of more personnel is underway to guarantee sustained deployment of the helicopters in operations, arrangements are at advanced stage to provide the required ground support equipment and spares for hitch free operation.
On his part, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Yahaya expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done adding that the induction ceremony was the apex of series of activities which began few months ago.
“This occasion particularly affirms the unswerving support the Nigerian Air Force has been receiving from the Federal Government, as well as the premium the current administration places on national security.”