The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on 1 November 2017, inducted a brand new Bell 412 Helicopter into the Nigerian Air Force (NAF). The newly inducted helicopter is one of the 2 handed over to the NAF by the Federal Government earlier this year. Having been in containers for about 2 years as at the time of the handover, the major systems of the 2 helicopters and the surveillance cameras had to be sent to the USA and Canada for overhaul and repairs to restore their airworthiness. The helicopter’s major systems were later reassembled at the NAF’s 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot (ACMD) Ikeja thereby providing an opportunity for the attachment of NAF engineers and technicians towards further building their technical capacities. The second Bell 412 Helicopter is still undergoing reactivation at 631 ACMD and would be inducted into the NAF immediately after reactivation.
In his keynote address at the induction ceremony, the CAS stated that the new helicopter comes with a surveillance camera and has night capability, amongst other capabilities. He added that the NAF had already trained its pilots, engineers and technicians to operate and maintain the new helicopter. Furthermore, adequate arrangements had been made to ensure the availability of spares and Ground Support Equipment for the Bell 412 Helicopters. Accordingly, he announced that the new helicopter was going to be deployed to the Northeast as part of the efforts to strengthen the counterterrorism campaign. The CAS then thanked Mr President for directing that the forfeited helicopters be transferred to the NAF, adding that it was an eloquent testimony of his commitment to the development of the NAF. Air Marshal Abubakar charged the pilots and engineers to demonstrate competence, proficiency and professionalism as they operate and maintain the new helicopter. He also thanked NAF’s technical partners with respect to the Bell 412 Helicopters, Messrs Africair, and expressed his hope that the partnership would last and be worthwhile. In his earlier welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Ibrahim Yahaya, had commended all the government agencies whose efforts facilitated the successful induction of the Bell Helicopter into the NAF.
The CAS later inspected the Machine Tools/Structure Workshop at 631 ACMD after which he directed the Unit Commander to immediately submit the requirements to make the workshop fully functional to enable the Service derive maximum benefits from it. In addition, he inspected the ongoing efforts to extend the service life of one of the NAF’s C-130H aircraft, which when completed would increase the strategic lift capability of the NAF. Furthermore, he took time to inspect the ATR-42 aircraft, one of the NAF’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms, whose engine was undergoing Hot Section Inspection, as being facilitated by Messrs Overland Airways of Nigeria. He added that the decision to engage the local outfit in the maintenance of the ATR-42 aircraft was part of the NAF’s efforts at synergizing with local companies in the fight against insurgency. A recurring feature in all the ongoing aircraft reactivation works was the attachment of NAF engineers and technicians, as part of the NAF leadership’s commitment to human capacity building.
The climax of the induction ceremony was the fly-pass by the newly inducted Bell 412 Helicopter. To the admiration of those present, Air Marshal Abubakar as well as the representatives of the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff went aboard the helicopter and thus participated in the fly-pass. Meanwhile, immediately upon landing in Lagos, the CAS had earlier paid a condolence visit on the family of late AVM Olufunsho Martins, a retired senior officer, who reportedly died in a road traffic accident on 28 October 2017.