One of the two helicopters seized by the Federal Government and handed over to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been refurbished and ready for deployment in the fight against Boko Haram in the Northeast.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar stated this yesterday at induction of the Bell 412 Utility Helicopter into the service’s fleet at 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot, Ikeja in Lagos.
He said the helicopter would boost the military’s war against insurgency, noting its peculiar features.
According to Abubakar, the helicopter was completely refurbished in-country, adding that its engines, main rotor transmissions, surveillance cameras amongst others were shipped to the United States and Canada for overhaul.
“We have inducted into the NAF inventory, one of the two handed over Bell 412 helicopters. The two helicopters were seized by the Government and transferred to the Nigerian Air Force.
“As at the time of transfer however, the helicopters had been in containers for about two years, thus, necessitating an overhaul of its major components such as the engines main rotor transmissions, and repair of surveillance cameras amongst other items.
These items had to be shipped to the United States and Canada for overhaul. Already, maintenance of one of the helicopters which would be deployed to the North East has been completed here in Ikeja. Work is at an advanced stage on the second helicopter, which will also be inducted soon.
“The induction of these air assets will boost the NAF’s operational standing; free other Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets to be dedicated to operational theatres, and also save cost occasioned by the reduction in maintenance hours of air assets due to re-rolling. It is also gratifying to note that the repair and maintenance was used to give our technicians the opportunity to build capacity.
“To be effective in the increased threat environment posed by contemporary security challenges, the NAF must possess the capacity and capability to project power across and within its operational theatres of engagement. The primary means by which the Service achieves power projection is through the use of its air assets.”
A 13-passenger and two crew rotary wing aircraft, the Bell 412 Helicopter has numerous safety features including night vision capability camera for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance operations, said Abubakar.
He said: “Indeed, the helicopter is suitable for deployment in hostile environments and can also be employed as a combat utility helicopter for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations as well as VIP transportation.
“Given the Nigerian Air Force pivotal role in the ongoing counter terrorism, counter insurgency operations and other internal security operations across the country, these platforms could not have come at a better time than now.
“Already, the service has trained pilots, engineers and technicians to take command and ensure optimal operations of the aircraft. While training of more personnel is underway to guarantee sustained deployment of the helicopters in operations, arrangements are at advanced stage to provide the required ground support equipment and spares for hitch free operation.
“I charge all personnel to demonstrate competence and proficiency, as well as operate and maintain the various platforms, equipments entrusted to your care.
In line with core values, you are not only to give your best to the service of the nation but must operate this equipment with utmost care.”
Earlier, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Yahaya, said the induction ceremony was the high-point of series of activities which commenced some months ago with the logistics, assembling, ground checks and eventually flight tests of the Bell 412 Utility Helicopter.
“This occasion particularly affirms the unswerving support the Nigerian Air Force has been receiving from the Federal Government, as well as the premium the current administration places on national security.”
At the event were Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Commodore Maurice Eno and the Commander, 9 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Elias Attu.