Nigeria’s Chief of the Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, on Wednesday inducted a brand new Bell 412 attack Helicopter into the Nigerian Air Force to give support to ground forces in the ongoing counter-insurgency operation in the North-east.
NAF’s spokesperson, Olatokunbo Adesanya, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
According to the statement, the helicopter is one of the two handed over to NAF by the Federal Government earlier this year.
“Having been in containers for about two years as at the time of the handover, the major systems of the two helicopters and the surveillance cameras had to be sent to the USA and Canada for overhaul and repairs to restore their airworthiness,” Mr. Adesanya said.
“The helicopter’s major systems were later reassembled at the NAF’s 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot, ACMD, Ikeja thereby providing an opportunity for the attachment of NAF engineers and technicians towards further building their technical capacities.”
The statement noted that the night-capable attack aircraft is still undergoing reactivation at 631 ACMD and would be inducted into the NAF immediately after reactivation.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Abubakar, an air marshal, said the new helicopter comes with a surveillance camera and has night capability, among other capabilities.
“NAF had already trained its pilots, engineers and technicians to operate and maintain the new helicopter.
“Furthermore, adequate arrangements had been made to ensure the availability of spares and Ground Support Equipment for the Bell 412 Helicopters,” he added.
The NAF chief disclosed that the helicopter would be deployed to the North-east as part of the efforts to strengthen the counter-terrorism campaign.
However, Mr. Abubakar expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for directing that the helicopters be transferred to NAF, adding that it was a testimony of his commitment to the development of NAF.
The air chief urged the pilots and engineers to demonstrate competence, proficiency and professionalism as they operate and maintain the aircraft.
He also thanked NAF’s technical partners with respect to the Bell 412 Helicopters, Messrs Africair, and expressed his confidence that the partnership would last and be valuable.
In his earlier keynote address, the Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command, Ibrahim Yahaya, an air vice marshal, commended all the government agencies whose efforts facilitated the successful induction of the helicopter into the NAF.
The Nigerian Airforce had in January acquired two Mi-35M attack helicopters from Russia to fight terrorists and criminal gangs.
The Mi-35M is a rugged helicopter that offers round the clock combat use of guided and unguided weapons in regular and challenging climate conditions which is equipped with the latest navigation suite, target sights system, laser range finder and location finder.