The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar has charged 12 newly winged pilots of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to justify the efforts and resources invested in their training by contributing their best towards sustaining the successes recorded in the various theatres of operation within the country.
According to Air Marshal Abubakar, the Service has continued to conduct independent and joint operations aimed at not only decimating the criminals and denying them freedom of action but also shaping the operational environment in the various theatres.
This, he said, can only be sustained with the injection of new and vibrant pilots to add energy and bite to the operations. The CAS stated this today, 23 November 2023, at the winging ceremony of Basic Flying Course-20 at the 403 Flying Training School (FTS), Kano.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the winging ceremony was significant, coming at a time when the NAF has immensely benefitted from the Federal Government’s determination to provide necessary platforms and equipment in the fight against terrorism, insurgency and other forms of criminality.
He noted that the acquisition of new platforms comes with the attendant consequences on manpower, training, and operating costs. This challenge, he said, is further exacerbated by the anticipated arrival of an array of new platforms such as the M-346, AH-1Z, A-109 Trekker, and the remaining T-129 ATAK helicopters. He therefore added that for the NAF to bridge the manpower gaps currently experienced, a 3-year training plan to commence from January 2024 must be sustained amid the availability of funding.
It was in view of this projection, according to the CAS, that the graduation of the Basic Flying Course 20 was gladdening, as it serves to bridge the pilot deficiency gap.
Air Marshal Abubakar further reminded the newly winged pilots of the current security environment of the Country which has remained fluid and unpredictable due to threats posed by terrorists in the North as well as an upsurge in banditry and kidnapping activities across the entire country.
He noted that there still exist some threats to Nigeria’s unity and cohesion as posed by secessionist groups in the Southeast, just as the theft of crude oil in the South-south has continued to threaten the economic wellbeing of the Country. He therefore reminded the pilots that the journey was far from over, hence the need to continually strive to elevate the NAF to greater heights.
Earlier, the Air Officer Commanding Air Training Command, Air Vice Marshal Nnamdi Ananaba, stated that the graduation ceremony represented the final phase of a series of training activities aimed at producing fully qualified pilots for the NAF.
According to him, “Beyond merely producing qualified pilots for the NAF, the objective of the flying course is to produce pilots that are significantly knowledgeable to operate the new and highly technical platforms being inducted into the NAF.” He went on to add that since the establishment of 403 FTS Kano in 1967, the School has trained over 207 pilots for the Nigeria Air Force and other sister Air Forces. Speaking further, Air Vice Marshal Ananaba noted that the addition of 12 fast jet pilots is a significant boost to NAF preparedness to receive and operate the significant number of platforms expected to be inducted into service.
The ceremony was witnessed by the representative of the Governor of Kano State, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Umar (Rtd), who is also the Director-General Special Duties, Branch Chiefs as well as several retired and serving officers.