By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Kaduna: As part of the closing ceremony of the 2018 NAF Day Celebration, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Saturday, unveiled the second batch of 2 units of Mi-35M helicopters that were recently delivered from Russia.
The introduction of these additional Mi-35M helicopters, is to boost the effectiveness and combat capability of the Nigerian Air Force, especially in the counter-insurgency operations in the North East .
The newly inducted helicopters which were unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in Kaduna, are capable of night fighting.
The NAF Day Celebration 2018,which started in Kaduna from, Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th May 2018, featured the resting of the ceremonial colours of the de-established Training Command and the presentation of new ceremonial colours to the newly established Air Training Command(ATC) and Ground Training Command(GTC), as well as Aerial Display by different aircrafts.
Speaking at the event, the Guest of Honour and Reviewing Officer, President Muhammadu Buhari, said that the role of the military as an enabler of national development cannot be overemphasized, as efforts would be futile if national security is not first guaranteed.
The President who was represented by the Minister of Defence, Muhammad Mansur Dan-Ali, said that the NAF has undergone several developmental stages, and the Government has over the years acquired various weapons systems to enable the NAF to effectively perform its roles.
He commended the gallant men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies, for their tireless efforts towards defeating Boko Haram and all other threats to the nation’s security, thus ensuring that the government can proceed with its developmental activity without hindrance.
The President reiterated the government’s commitment and firm resolve to take the Nation to the next level, adding that they remain determined to overcome all challenges to Nigeria’s security and development as a nation.
In his welcome address,the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said that the growth of the NAF since the inception of the current administration has been particularly outstanding, saying that 12 grounded aircrafts have been reactivated and personnel strength has been increased by 7,500 men and 400 officers.
He remarked that two Commands and two new Branches have been established and new platforms acquired and inducted into service to meet the evolving security challenges they are faced with, adding that the NAF recently took delivery of 10 Super Mushak aircraft from Pakistan and the first batch of Mi-35M attack helicopters procured from the Russian Federation.
According to him, “the increased training requirements occasioned by the enlarge personnel strength, induction of new platforms and new operational challenges also necessitated the unbundling of the erstwhile Training Command into the Air Training Command with headquarters in Kaduna and the Ground Training Command with headquarters in Enugu.
He said, “Occasions such as this presents an opportunity to reflect, take stock and chart new ways to move the Service forward. The 54 years of the existence of the Nigerian Air Force has been quite an eventful one.
“It has seen the NAF face a myriad of challenges, overcome the challenges and mature in the process. It has also seen the NAF grow in size, spread and equipment holding, all in a bid to fulfil its statutory obligation of protecting and defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria from the air” he commented.
The CAS renewed the NAF’s commitment to supporting the vision of President Buhari, in ensuring a secured and prosperous Nigeria.