By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is set to induct the second batch of 2 new Agusta Westland 109 Power Attack Helicopters procured by the Federal Government as part of the fleet enhancement efforts to enable more effective and efficient employment of air power to tackle the security challenges facing the Nation.
The 2 helicopters, along with associated equipment and spares, arrived Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja on board a Boeing 737-400 Cargolux Airline aircraft from Malpensa International Airport in Italy on 15 January 2020.
In a statement on Saturday, the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, stated that the helicopters were received by a NAF Team, led by Air Commodore Halim Adebowale, as well as the Country Representative of Leonardo Helicopters, manufacturers of the aircraft.
“NAF engineers and technicians, in collaboration with a Team from Leonardo, have commenced assembly of the helicopters preparatory to their induction into service”, he said.
It would be recalled that the NAF had earlier received the first batch of 2 new Agusta 109 Power Helicopters that were inducted into the Service on 29 April 2019 during the 55th NAF Day Celebration in Abuja.
The Service, within the last 5 years, has taken delivery of 21 brand new aircraft, including 10 Super Mushshak, 5 Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships, 2 Bell 412 Helicopters and 4 Agusta 109 Power Helicopters.
Beside these, 15 additional aircraft have been ordered by the Federal Government, which include 12 Super Tucano attack aircraft and 3 JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft.
In addition, the Service also took over 11 aircraft from other MDAs. These include 3 EC-135 helicopters and 3 Dauphin helicopters from NNPC, 3 Donier 228 aircraft and 2 Agusta 101 from the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF); making an unprecedented total of 47 aircraft that have either been inducted into the NAF or ordered for the Service since 2015.
In the same vein, over 20 previously grounded aircraft have been reactivated within the past 5 years.
After induction, Daramola noted that the 2 new helicopters will be deployed to theatres of operation across the country to reinforce NAF capability in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminality.