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We’re ready for insurgents, bandits – Air force chief

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Mashal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday, in Kano, said the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) is well-equipped to further combat insurgency and banditry with the re-activation of three L-39ZA aircraft which include NAF352, NAF354 and NAF364.

The NAF boss, who spoke during handover ceremony of the reactivated L-39ZA aircraft by Czech-based company, Aero Vodochody Aerospace, at the 403 NAF Training School, Kano, said additional six of such aircraft would also be re-activated before the end of 2019.

According to him, “I think the impact the re-activation of these aircraft is going to make should go beyond even training the officers here. It is like sending a signal to Nigerians that the president and Commander-In-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, is highly committed to ensuring that all that is required for us to be able to address some of the fundamental issues of internal security facing Nigeria is being addressed.

“That is why I think that it is not just a message to the school, but a message to Nigerians and I think the federal government is committed.

“We have brought in three grounded fighter aircraft that are now out, ready to be used. We need to train pilots to be able to have combat pilots that will go out to address these challenges. It is here in Kano that we do the basic training and we cannot achieve that, if we don’t have sufficient number of aircraft.

“Remember also that some of these aircraft that you see here, we have utilised them in the North-East and that is why one of them that you see over there is painted in desert camouflage.”

He noted that “the re-activation of these aircraft means saving money and building capacity,” adding that “our engineers and technicians participated right from the beginning. They put the aircraft together with our technical partners from the Czech Republic and they have been very professional because these are aircraft manufactured in Czech Republic.

He added that “this handing over ceremony marks a positive turning point in our efforts to ensure that the NAF is able to sustain jet training of our potential pilots in this school.”

He expressed gratitude to the president for giving priority attention “to our efforts to maintain our current platforms and equipment as well as the support given to the Nigerian Air Force to acquire new platforms such as the A-29 Super Tucano, JF-17 aircraft as well as additional Mi-35M and Agusta A-109 Power hels.”

In his address, the Ambassador of Czech Republic in Nigeria, Marek Skolil, traced the bilaterial relationship between Czech and Nigeria in 1961, pointing out that the country has always been a top ally of Nigeria even during the civil war.

“For 33 years of service here in Nigeria, this aircraft has proved to be rugged, reliable and pilot-friendly platform, used for the training of several generations of Nigeria Air Force pilots,” he said.

In his welcome address, the Commander of 403 NAF Flying Training School, Mr. Nnamdi Ananaba, said the engineers and technicians of the Aero Vodochody Company spent four months in the school re-activating the three aircraft.

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