By Peter Amine (NAN)
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar has said that the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) now manufactures missile heat shields, hydraulic accumulator diaphragm and maintains its aircrafts locally.
Abubakar stated this on Wednesday in Jos during a public lecture at the University of Jos, entitled: ‘The Role of Nigerian Air Force in Contemporary Security Challenges’.
The CAS said that prior to his administration, the NAF was relied on its foreign partners for almost everything.
He said that the breakthroughs were made possible through continuous and painstaking research and development.
“The service has undertaken various initiatives singly and in conjunction with credible partners and these have already yielded positive outcomes.
“For example, the Service now produces a better version of the hydraulic accumulator diaphragms for its Mi-35 helicopter and L-39 aircraft fleet.
“In the same vein, the Air Force Research and Development Centre made breakthroughs in the local production of Missile Heat Shields.
“Additionally, the NAF now collaborates with Innoson Group of Companies to mass produce brake pads and rivets for the Alpha Jet aircraft which were unavailable, due to closure of its production lines.
“An interesting feat is the breakthrough we had in making our previously grounded CH-3A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) serviceable after in-country repairs by NAF engineers and indigenous research partners.
“The CH-3A, which is an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) capable of using precision munitions as well as conducting aerial surveillance, was launched into operation after these repairs,” he said.
Abubakar added that NAF has also made breakthroughs in down streaming of live Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) footage on some of its surveillance platforms.
The CAS added that ISR enables more robust response to activities of terrorists and armed bandits in ongoing operations.
He said that the feat changed the previous system where NAF had to depend solely on some providers of such services for delayed footages and at very high costs.
“Additional breakthroughs in the NAF Research and Development efforts include the local production of C-130H auxiliary power unit test stand.
“Others are weaponisation of NAF and Nigerian Police Force Bell 412 helicopters, production of 30.1mm live rockets and production of hilux mounted rocket launchers as well as geisha 23mm guns of the decommissioned Mig-21 aircraft,” he explained.
He added that NAF was partnering 15 universities to improve its research and development.
Abubakar said that apart from its counter insurgency efforts, NAF has executed some Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) projects.
He listed the CIMIC programmes to include donation of mosquito treated nets, medical care, water supply, school feeding and donation of food items.
According to him, the NAF conducted 66 medical outreaches with over 370,000 patients seen including 2,065 general and eye surgeries carried out from July 2015 till date.
“NAF has also established and maintained a Level two Hospital at the IDP Camp, Dalori. The Level two Hospital provides both preventive and therapeutic services to the displaced persons.
“Furthermore, NAF has provided individual carry-on first aid kits containing various medical items for 1,000 special force personnel.
“These measures bolstered the confidence of the people in the military, countered Boko Haram Terrorists recruitment strategy and enhanced local intelligence gathering,” he said.
Prof. Sabastian Maimako, Vice Chancellor, University of Jos, thanked Abubakar for accepting the request to deliver the lecture.
He said the lecture was an eye opener on the various achievements and challenges of the NAF, adding that Nigerians had benefited from its various research and development efforts.
On his part, Prof. Nenfort Gomwalk, a former vice chancellor of the university, who was the chairman of the occasion, lauded NAF’s contribution in tackling insurgency.