By G9ija

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, says the Force would take delivery of additional fighter helicopters from the Federal Government before the end of December.

Air Marshal Amao disclosed this on Thursday during an operation seminar in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.

The seminar was with the theme: “Harnessing Nigerian Air Force Combat Experience in Joint Military Operations for Doctrinal Development.”

Amao said that the aircraft would boost Nigeria’s air power employment and projection capabilities as well as air combat training.

He added that the new delivery would be in addition to the already acquired 38 new aircraft since 2015.

Amao listed the aircraft being expected to include: two Agusta 109 Trekker multi-role helicopters, two Beechcraft King Air 360, four Diamond DA-62 surveillance aircraft, three Wing Loong II UCAVs and six T-129 ATAK helicopters.

Others include two CASA-295 medium airlift/surveillance aircraft, 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters and 24 M-346 attack aircraft.

The Air Chief added: “Under Mr. President’s able leadership, the Federal Government has, since 2015, acquired 38 new aircraft to boost training and combat readiness of the NAF.

“A few of these additional platforms are expected to be delivered to the Nigerian Air Force in December 2022 while others are to be delivered with effect from 2023.”

The Air Chief also disclosed that the operatives had neutralised the activities of terrorists in the country through intensive air interdiction of their locations and facilities.

According to him, the persistent strikes by the Air Force have not only degraded the resources of the bandits, but have disrupted their supply lines and denied them of freedom of movement.

Amao also congratulated newly-winged young pilots and urged them to be prepared for the arduous task ahead in their operational environment.

He said: “Like I advised during the last winging ceremony, you must be relentless in the pursuit of excellence and professionalism, while working with your colleagues across other specialties in the service.

“Let me use this opportunity to remind you that in the conduct of NAF operations, we must always adhere to laid down Rules of Engagement.

“It is mandatory that we also protect civilians and minimise civilian casualties during our operations.”

Amao said that he had set up a committee of officers to compile all allegations of accidental strikes on civilians as well as review the circumstances leading to such strikes in the course of operation.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his unflinching support, through which the Nigerian Air Force achieved its current level of operational effectiveness.

In his remarks, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State commended the Nigerian Air Force operatives for their relentless efforts in combating the insurgents.

Emmanuel said that under the current leadership of the Chief of the Air Staff, the Nigerian Air Force was experiencing professionalism in securing the nation.

The governor said that no development could take place in an insecure environment and pledged his commitment towards the advancement of Nigerian Air Force.

He lauded the Air Force for the choice of Akwa Ibom for the seminar, adding that the Air Force had lived up to its statutory responsibilities.