The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday inducted 5 additional Super Mushshak trainer aircraft into its inventory for the primary training of its pilots at 401 Flying Training School (FTS), Kaduna. At the same time, 16 ab-initio student pilots, including 2 female cadets, graduated from the 401 FTS. It is significant to note that it was the first time in over 30 years that NAF cadets of the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna would be graduating from flying training before being commissioned as officers. The newly inducted aircraft, which were the NAF’s first batch of 10 Super Mushshak aircraft procured from Pakistan, were recently received by the NAF. The inducted aircraft are all brand new and are fitted with digital glass cockpit in line with current practice in the global aviation industry.
In his remarks at the occasion, the Special Guest of Honour, Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Honourable Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, stated that one of the major security policy thrusts of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is the building of the capacity of the Armed Forces. “We have since embarked on qualitative training and acquisition of new platforms and other supporting equipment for the Armed Forces and security agencies. We have also sanitised the procurement process of military hardware with a view to eliminating corruption and inefficiency. This has contributed in no small way to the acquisition of these new aircraft without any encumbrances,” he stated. The Acting President congratulated the newly graduated pilots for the accomplishment in completing the primary flying training in a record time. “You should by now have known that the reward for hard work is more hard work”. He then commended the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, for his selfless efforts in repositioning the NAF for greater professionalism and excellent service delivery to the country.
Earlier in his welcome address, the CAS commended the efforts of the Federal Government in acquiring several operational and training platforms for the NAF as well as for the huge investment in infrastructural and human resource development in the last 2 years. According to the CAS, within that period, the NAF has been able to reactivate 12 hitherto grounded aircraft but which are now flying. “We have attained between 63 to 70 per cent aircraft serviceability rate as against about 35 per cent aircraft serviceability rate 2 years ago”, he said. The CAS further stated that the capacity development efforts of the NAF had translated into better operational efficiency in the North East and other parts of the country. Air Marshal Abubakar also noted that the defence architecture of the NAF Bases had improved tremendously in the past 2 years with the training assistance the NAF receives from the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT). The graduation of ab-initio student pilots is part of efforts at repositioning the NAF into highly professional force. “Our plan is to consolidate on this achievement in order to attain self-reliance in local pilot training.”
The representative of the Special Guest of Honour and other invited guests were later treated to an aerial display, involving several acrobatics, by one of the new aircraft. The distinguished guests also visited the Air Force Research and Development Centre in Kaduna, where they inspected some ongoing research works such as the Gulma Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Unguided Rockets and the Powered Chute Aircraft.