From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), yesterday, winged four fighter pilots, who had completed their training in the United States of America, to join their counterparts in the ongoing counter insurgency operations and other internal security operations of the service.
The new winged pilots, including two combat helicopter pilots and two fighter pilots, were winged by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, at a ceremony held at the NAF headquarters in Abuja.
In his address at the occasion, Amao, while noting that 45 other pilots were currently undergoing training overseas, said the NAF could not effectively employ airpower where it did not have a sufficient number of well-trained aviators and support personnel.
He said the winging of the new pilots “bears glowing testament to our commitment towards enhancing and sustaining critical airpower capabilities required for joint force employment in pursuit of our national security imperatives.
“We shall sustain our efforts in pursuing purposeful training and human capacity development for our personnel.”
He added: “In line with this drive, I’m glad to note that the Nigerian Air Force has several other pilots as well as personnel from other specialties undergoing various training courses, both at home and abroad.
“For instance, we currently have a total of 233 officers and airmen/airwomen undergoing training courses overseas, cutting across several specialties and trades. Out of this number, four student pilots are in the Czech Republic undergoing basic fighter training on the L-39 aircraft. In the same vein, two student pilots are undergoing helicopter training in the United States of America, while an additional two have been processed to join them in the coming days.
“Furthermore, 10 pilots are in the United Kingdom undergoing basic helicopter pilot training.
“Additionally, another 17 are in South Africa undergoing basic fixed-wing pilot training.
“All these are aimed at maintaining combat readiness at significantly higher levels to counter both domestic and foreign threats to the nation’s security and wellbeing.”
Earlier in his address at the occasion the Chief of Training and Operations, Air Vice Marshal James Gwani, said the pilots “have gone through the rigours of flying training, and their inclusion into the pilots’ corps would no doubt boost the strength of pilots, especially as the NAF is inducting and expecting more platforms to combat the various security challenges across the country.”