The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Tuesday Tuesdaysaid that it was currently training no fewer than 200 personnel in nine different countries to further enhance capacity of its officials in air combat.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said this when he appeared at the 2021 budget defence session of the Senate Committee on Air Force.
Abubakar said that the training of the personnel was part of capacity building measures of the current management of NAF.
“As part of our capacity building initiatives, the Nigerian Air Force currently has about 200 personnel it is training in nine different countries of the world.
“The pilots will soon join their colleagues in the fight to secure the country.’’
He said that the training of NAF crew had greatly improved, adding that the measure was resulting in efficiency in air combat operations of NAF.
He also disclosed that enhancement in training of NAF aircraft engineers and technicians had also increased the visibility status of Nigerian Air Force from an average of 35 per cent to 85 per cent as at date.
Abubakar said that NAF in a bid to ensure security was brought closer to the people by established number of bases.
He listed the new bases to include Birini Gwari in Kaduna state, Gusah in Zamfara , Owerri in Imo and Agatu in Benue.
Others are Jetu in Taraba, Jera in Plateau and Daura in Kastina state.
“We have expanded the base unit in Illesa, Osun state.
“We have established a base, referral hospital and helicopters’ maintenance facility in our base in Bauchi.
“These bases have actually made it easier for us to respond to security challenges that might emerge in the various geo-political zones where these bases are located.’’
He also disclosed that NAF had developed capacity of 119 Pilots, two of whom were from Liberia.
According to him, the two trained Liberian officials were released to the Liberian Air Force.
The Air Force boss said that NAF was expecting 12 combat pilots from the United Kingdom by Nov. 21, and Nov. 22.
He also said that as part its restructuring, NAF had also created field commands.
He said that 4,788 patients also benefited from its medical outreach programmes conducted in different parts of the country.
He commended the Senate Committee for supporting NAF on its activities while also looking forward to receiving more support from the committee.
This, he said, would enable NAF to execute its mandate further.
“We cannot win the insurgency war without a credible Air Force, and we are working toward ensuring that we bridge the gap that have existed over the years in terms of capability and capacity of the Air Force.’’
Responding, Chairman of The Committee, Sen. Bala Ibn’Nala (APC Kebbi) said the committee had studied the 2021 budget estimates of NAF.
“When we embarked on oversight last time, we saw the inadequacies that are associated with lack of funding.’’
He said the committee believed that timely funding was very important for the air force operation.
He said the committee was willing and ready to undertake on-the-sport assessment of the situation in the various theatres to register its appreciation of the efforts of NAF.
“We are equally willing to give in our lives in protecting the territorial integrity of the nation,’’ Ibn’Nala said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that, thereafter, the committee in a unanimous resolution adopted the 2021 budgetary estimates of the NAF.