Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the repairs on nine grounded F7-NI fighter aircrafts as part of its efforts to continue to protect the territorial integrity of the country.

Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar disclosed this while inspecting the aircrafts at the hanger of the Tactical Air Command (TAC) of the NAF Base in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on Monday.

The CAS said the development clearly indicated the seriousness with which the system is working to ensure the NAF gets back some of the grounded aircrafts into flying status again.

“In Makurdi, the work is ongoing on nine F7-NI fighter aircrafts. Seven are going to be crated and taken out of Makurdi to China for maintenance and two would be done locally here. Already, work on the two have began as you can see here.

Abubakar explained further that the idea is to first ensure that NAF has the required platform serviceable and secondly, to build the capacity of its personnel.

“That is why the life extension program which is an aspect of the maintenance job is done locally here in Makurdi. It’s similar to what we are doing in Kainji and Ikeja where we reactivated the C-130 aircraft.

“The 917 which is parked outside there is one of the two C-130 that were reactivated in Ikeja; the first time in the history of our service.”

The Chief of the Air Staff who also commissioned renovated and remodelled training facilities at the NAF School of Air Intelligence in Makurdi stated that the NAF is expecting an additional aircraft from Pakistan adding that the commissioned facilities would accommodate technicians and pilots who would be coming to support NAF operation for the first one year when the aircraft arrives.

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“That clearly shows that all hands are on deck and we are working round the clock to ensure that we have what it takes in terms of capability and in terms of capacity to ensure that we are able to provide the required security for our country and our people.

“Just this morning, we also recieved information on the unmanned combat vehicle meant for Nigeria. It’s likely to leave from China to Nigeria today and we have some of our personnel that are already training there.

“It clearly shows that all hands are on deck and we will continue to do everything humanly possible to ensure that our country is secured and our people can go about their businesses without difficulties.

“A gap has existed for many decades. So, bridging that gap takes time but I want to say that we are making substantial progress and we should be able to have substantially, all that we require to be more effective in what we are doing,” Abubakar said.