The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Monday took delivery of two Mi-35M helicopter gunships ordered from Russia by the Federal Government.
The Antonov aircraft, which brought the new Mi-35M helicopters, touched down on the runway at NAF Base Makurdi at exactly 12.20pm where the Chief of Aircraft Engineering at NAF Headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Abdulganiyu Olabisi, was on hand to take delivery on behalf of the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, according to a statement by the Air Force.
A combined team of NAF personnel and Russian technicians were also on hand to assist in offloading the partially assembled new helicopters, some parts of which came in crates.
The newly delivered helicopters, which are capable of night fighting, are all brand new and are the most sophisticated in the Mi-series of helicopter gunships.
The statement by NAF spokesman Olatokunbo Adesanya, an air vice marshal, reads further: “The newly received combat helicopters form the second batch of the fleet of Mi-35M helicopters, the procurement of which the current Federal Government Administration initiated in Year 2015.
“At the inception of the current NAF leadership in 2015, it was realized that modern Mi-helicopter gunships with night-fighting capability needed to be procured towards enhancing the operational capability of the NAF.
“Consequently, the delivery of the helicopter gunships would go a long way in adding impetus to the current efforts at combatting the security challenges in Benue State and other parts of the North Central Region as well as other forms of criminality facing the country.
“In addition, with the delivery of the additional Mi-35M helicopters, the on-going counterinsurgency operation in the Northeast has just received a boost.
“It would be recalled that the NAF took delivery of the first batch of 2 brand new Mi-35M helicopters in December 2016, following which the helicopters were inducted and had since been contributing significantly to the counterinsurgency and other Internal Security operations in the country.
“Furthermore, some NAF personnel had undergone training in Russia, as Pilots and technicians on the Mi-35M helicopters, as part of the contract. Sequel to the hitch-free delivery, a team of Russian and NAF technicians will now complete the assembly of the newly received helicopters in Nigeria prior to test flying.
“Thereafter, the helicopter gunships will be formally inducted into the NAF, as part of the activities to mark the 54th anniversary celebrations of the Service.”