The Chief of Air Staff, CAS, Air Marshal Oladayo Isiaka Amao has said that he has taken Nigerian Air Force, NAF, to the next level from where it was when he was appointed as NAF boss one year ago.
He said that his vision for the NAF seeks: “To enhance and sustain critical airpower capabilities required for joint force employment in pursuit of national security imperatives. To give bite to the vision, the CAS fashioned out 5 main key drivers which include: Focus on doctrinal development and application of airpower in joint military operations, pursue purposeful training and human capacity development; sustenance of platforms and equipment serviceability through innovative maintenance methods and logistics support systems; foster a disciplined workforce essential for combat readiness and to bolster moral by improving personnel welfare.”
He added that in line with one of the key drivers of the CAS vision which focuses on doctrinal development and application of airpower in joint military operations, the NAF came up with development of 11 new doctrines. The development of the doctrines is in tandem with one of the key drivers of the CAS vision which is: “Focus on doctrinal development and application of airpower in joint military operations”.
The doctrines are essentially based on analysis of the contemporary security environment as well as the operational experiences of the Service and the collective beliefs. Accordingly, all relevant competencies in the NAF are now guided by updated doctrines that are quite germane to NAF present operations.
To sustain platforms and equipment serviceability to tackle current and emerging security challenges, the NAF has in the last 12 months witnessed a tremendous boost to its aircraft holdings across various fleets, through systematic acquisition and reactivation.
In addition to the previously acquired platforms, the NAF in the last one year has taken delivery of 15 brand new aircraft and Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) and have sustained reactivation of hitherto un-serviceable platforms to upscale its capabilities in tackling insurgency, terrorism, armed banditry and other forms of criminality.
The acquisitions and reactivation as well as the emplacement of robust logistics support structure have enabled the NAF to raise the serviceability status of operable aircraft from about 35 per cent (35%) in 2015 to about 72 per cent (72%) as at September 2021. The deployment of these platforms for combat has brought some level of sanity and normalcy to previously terrorist/bandits ravaged areas in the Northeast and Northwest.
In the last one year the NAF has winged 56 pilots who graduated from various pilot courses both at home and abroad. In the same vein, officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF are currently undergoing training in various countries including the United States of America, South Africa, India, Belgium, Egypt and Pakistan, amongst others. In addition, hundreds of personnel across all specialties are also being trained locally despite budgetary constraints.
The NAF has also significantly boosted the capacity of its Regiment and Special Forces with additional training and equipment to improve operations in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminality. Other areas that have received significant capacity boost include the training of engineers and technicians, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), education, administration and medical professionals amongst others.
In keeping with one of his key drivers which harps on purposeful training and human capacity development, the Aircraft Engineering Branch made concerted efforts to secure some foreign training slots for NAF engineers which were approved by the CAS.
Other achievements include the conduct of Master Technician Course at Flight Safety International Wichita, USA, Advance Maintenance training on Mi-35P helicopter by Ukrainian Technical Team at 115 SOG, Conduct of Avionics Components Repair Course at CAOCC and NAFTRAC training of 453 aircraft engineering personnel on 13 aircraft types in the NAF. Major feats were also recorded in the sustenance of platforms and equipment serviceability through Innovative maintenance methods and logistics support systems.
The NAF embarked on construction of road and renovation 1 x Block of classroom at the Air Force Comprehensive School, Yola while it renovated the dilapidated Air Force Primary School, Ilorin to improve the quality of education in NAF schools. These are geared towards provision of qualitative education for dependants of personnel as well as members of the host communities.
Also, Master Edeani Izuchukwu, a student of Air Force Comprehensive School, Agbani, Enugu State emerged winner of the National Science Competitive Examination where he was awarded “774 Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award” by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. In the same vein, Miss Feyisola Bolarinwa, a student of Air Force Girls Military School, Jos won the Bronze Award at the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition conducted by the Royal Commonwealth Society.
To enable NAF personnel and those outside the Service have the opportunity to channel their complaints and grievances against the Service or its personnel, the CAS during the year established the Office of the Ombudsman. The Office will serve as an independent instrument that will provide an objective and compassionate channel for seeking redress.
In a bid to stimulate better welfare packages for NAF veterans and their families, the CAS also established the Directorate of Veteran Affairs. The Directorate is responsible for interfacing with similar structure s in sister Services towards harnessing necessary benefits for NAF retirees under existing Federal Government programmes for veterans, among other responsibilities.
Since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) the NAF airlifted several government officials, equipment, and medical supplies in response to the outbreak. The Service also ensured that its Liquefied Oxygen (LOX) plant is on 24 hours operation to ensure uninterrupted production and supply to Isolation Centers across the country.
In 2021, the NAF airlifted COVID-19 medical relief materials donated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other donor partners like Team Europe, the German Government, United Nations Development Programme & Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
The relief materials were airlifted from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to 14-member nations of ECOWAS. Additionally, in line with Mr President’s mandate to contribute towards winning the peace in troubled areas in the Country, the NAF has emplaced programmes aimed at alleviating the sufferings of IDPs as well as win the hearts and minds of those affected by the activities of BHTs and other criminal activities.
In his determination to improve the poor welfare package of temporary teaching staff in NAF Schools nationwide, which has been left unattended to by successive administrations, Air Marshal Amao recently approved a 50 per cent upward review of all temporary teachers in NAF primary and secondary schools nationwide.
This increment is across board for both BSc and NCE certificate holders teaching in NAF Schools across the country. This has no doubt enhanced the morale of the teachers and improved their standards of living with positive consequences on their teaching outputs. The pupils of AFMS and AFGMS Jos also benefited from Air Marshal Amao’s magnanimity as he approved a 66.67 per cent increase of their ration allowance from N600 to N1,000, a measure which will go a long way in enhancing their nutrition and learning as well.
The NAF, in the last one year, has invested substantially in R&D to develop unprecedented capacity to surmount current and emerging security challenges while also enhancing its operational viability. These breakthroughs were realized under the guidance of the CAS, through the Air Force Research and Development Centre. Some of the R&D breakthroughs recorded included the refurbishment of unserviceable rocket launchers and BMGs back loaded from operations, test firing of locally produced 18-tube rocket launchers for A-jet aircraft and the production and deployment of 30.1mm rocket to 271 NAF Det Birnin-Gwari for operational usage.
There were breakthroughs in the installation of generating system on Tsaigumi UAV, repair of quantity 2 x C-130H nose Radomes and production of a PGM prototype. These innovations have no doubt enhanced NAF’s operations and reduced to a large extent NAF’s over-dependence on foreign assistance thereby enabling the country make savings on foreign exchange.
Realising that the availability of key infrastructures such as accommodation, roads and water in NAF Bases nationwide enhances morale of troops which have positive implications on NAF operational output, the CAS has given approval for the construction of Concrete Platforms for Aircraft Arrestor System for the newly inducted JF-17 Aircraft at NAF Base Makurdi and the expansion of Military Apron and resurfacing of part of old runway and taxiway at 105 Composite G Maiduguri.
The CAS also approved the construction of aircraft shelter and concrete pavement at NAF Base Bauch and helipad at Forward Operating Base, Ogoja. These efforts are aside the over 100 blocks of different types of living accommodation at various levels of completion in NAF Bases nationwide.
Upon assumption of office, Air Marshal Amao immediately approved the implementation of the NAF paperless process automation solution. This initiative which is currently at an advanced stage and the first of its kind in the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria, became necessary having observed NAF’s overdependent on paper in its daily correspondences, which has negative environmental impact