By Joy Odor
As the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) winged new set of six helicopter pilots who completed their basic flying training at Draken Helicopter Academy in the United Kingdom, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao has confirmed that a total of 195 officers and airmen/airwomen are undergoing various training courses abroad cutting across several specialties and trades.
Speaking at the winging ceremony at the NAF Headquarters in Abuja, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao said the exercise will boost operational manpower development in the service.
He also stated that locally, there are 12 student pilots undergoing Basic Fighter Training at 403 Flying Training School, Kano, while 10 others are undergoing Basic Transport Training at 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna respectively.
He emphasized that these courses were aimed at maintaining combat readiness by increasing the number of pilots to man existing aircraft, including the 26 new platforms acquired by the Federal Government in the past 6 years.
On the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, the CAS stated that about 60 NAF personnel, comprising pilots, engineers, technicians, and other specialists, have completed their training on the aircraft in USA.
Air Marshal Amao reiterated the importance of the human factor as the most critical airpower component that must be enhanced and sustained for effective and efficient performance.
The CAS pointed out that this was why the need for increase in manpower development witnessed in the NAF in recent times became necessary
He added that these efforts were expected to place the Service in a dominant position to deliver on its constitutional role more effectively, especially in the light of NAF’s involvement in several internal security operations across the country.
The overall effect of these efforts, according to the CAS, “is that the NAF, operating in synergy with sister services and other security agencies will be better positioned to more effectively counter both domestic and foreign threats to the nation’s security and the wellbeing of our people.”
While encouraging the newly winged pilots, the CAS urged them not to rest on their oars as the feat they have achieved also comes with a burden of responsibility as so much is expected of them.
He also advised them to continue to give their best to the Service and the Nation. Air Marshal Amao also used the opportunity of the ceremony to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for his unflinching support to the NAF.
Earlier, the Chief of Training and Operations (CTOP), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) James Gwani had said that the winging of the pilots further lends credence to one of the Key Drivers of the CAS, which was to “Pursue purposeful training and human capacity development’.
He added that the new pilots would undoubtedly further enhance NAF’s capacity for effective, efficient, and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
While giving the highlights of the courses, the CTOP stated that the Basic Flying Course 24B, which commenced from 27 February 20 to 20 June 21, included 3 phases: Basic Rotary Wing Phase, Operational Rotary Wing Phase and Conversion Phase.
The ceremony had in attendance Branch Chiefs of Headquarters NAF, Directors as well as relatives of the newly winged pilots.