By Daniels Nwokike.
The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) is set to induct two newly acquired Mi-35M attack helicopters into its inventory to help improve the aerial component of the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North East.
The Chairman, Organising Committee of the Nigeria Airforce Day Celebrations 2017, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Isiaka Amao, who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Abuja, said more of the latest version of Mi-35M are expected from Russia.
The Sight News research reveals that the Mi-35M has a maximum speed of 310km/h, main rotor diameter of 17m and engines of 2xGTD TV3-117VMA tuborshaft. It also has operational altitude of 5,400m with a normal range of 460km and Max Distance of 1000km with full-filled load.
The aircraft which is designed for attack and military transport missions, integrates modern, high-precision weaponry for destroying ground-based armoured targets and providing air support for ground missions.
He also announced that trained pilot officers are to be deployed in conflict zones across the country as Air Force expands their scope of operations beyond the North Eastern enclaves of Boko Haram terrorists, having almost achieved their mission in the area.
He said; “We are focusing beyond the North East not just because we have decimated the Boko Haram terrorists but because there are other security challenges in other parts of the country. So we are looking at the country as a whole not just limited to the Boko Haram issue.
“We have been able to sniff out Boko Haram from their enclaves, also in South South we have been able to limit the activities of the Niger Delta militants. There is also appreciable activities in the North West and North Central where we have limited the activities of the herdsmen and cattle rustling,” he added.
For the 2017 NAF Day Celebration which is tagged ‘Employment of Air Power for Enduring National Security’, Amao said that it is with the view that the priority of NAF lies with the consolidation of the gains of air power employment.
Amao also listed series of activities slated to mark the celebration to include: medical outreach, Air weapons meet, gala night, ceremonial parade and winging of new pilots; Others are presentation of colours to Special Operations Command, and aerial and static display amongst others.
The committee chairman noted that the celebration will serve as an avenue to give back to the society through the host communities and also to appreciate Nigerians for their support so far.
The helicopter which delivers superior flight performance and manoeuvrability than its predecessor, can be modified as an attack, ground assault, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) or transport platform.