By Augustine Ehikioya
To sustain airpower capabilities, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao has charged newly winged pilots of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to be relentless in the pursuit of excellence and professionalism as operational pilots and operators.
This, he said, is very essential as they work alongside their colleagues across other specialties in the Service.
Amao made the call on Wednesday at the winging ceremony of 16 new NAF pilots and operators held at the MD Umar Blue Room, NAF Headquarters in Abuja.
This was contained in a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, and made available to Security Watch Africa (SWA).
He enjoined the pilots to strive to imbibe the doctrine of jointness at the front lines as they synergize with personnel from sister Services and other security agencies in pursuit of national security imperatives.
The winging of the pilots, he noted, was yet another step in the deliberate drive towards the realization of his vision “to enhance and sustain critical airpower capabilities required for joint force employment in pursuit of national security imperatives”.
According to him, through foresight and diligence, the Service has effectively keyed into one of the key drivers of this Vision which is to “pursue purposeful training and human capacity development”.
Highlighting the significance of the winging ceremony, the CAS noted that for the NAF to function efficiently, both as a highly technical Service and as a fighting force to be reckoned with, it must have the right mix of numerical strength and qualitative manpower in all relevant competencies.
This, he said, informed the need to pursue training of NAF personnel both locally and overseas. Air Marshal Amao said that “another set of 11 student pilots are currently undergoing training in South Africa, while 3 are undergoing Alpha Jet conversion in Egypt.
“In the same vein, 12 student pilots are undergoing Super Tucano training while 4 others are undergoing helicopter training in the United States of America.
“Locally too, over 100 pilots are currently undergoing various types of flying training ranging from Basic Fighter Training, Basic Transport Training, Ab-Initio Flying Training, Initial and Basic Training and Helicopter Pilot Training at various NAF flying training institutions nationwide.”
These training efforts, according to the CAS, are targeted at ensuring combat readiness at significantly higher levels to counter both domestic and foreign threats to the nation’s security and the wellbeing of all Nigerians.
Air Marshal Amao also seized the opportunity to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for providing the enabling environment for the NAF, and indeed the entire Armed Forces, to function more effectively, despite budgetary constraints.
Speaking earlier, the Chief of Training and Operations, Air Vice Marshal James Gwani had informed the audience that 4 of the new pilots recently completed their Military Style Basic Helicopter Pilot Training at the Draken Europe Helicopter Academy, United Kingdom while the other 12 were trained locally at the 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna.
He also said that the 16 pilots went through the rigours of flying and operational training and their winging would no doubt boost NAF’s operational manpower disposition especially as the NAF is inducting and expecting more platforms to address the various security challenges across the country.
Air Vice Marshal Gwani thereafter expressed profound gratitude and appreciation to the CAS, whose leadership has created the enabling environment for timely turn out of pilots and operators in the NAF.
The statement said the winging ceremony which is the fifth under the current NAF leadership of Air Marshal Oladayo Amao is, “a clear indication of his strategic mindset which is hinged on enhancing NAF’s operational capacity to effectively tackle current contemporary security challenges.”
The winging ceremony had in attendance Branch Heads, Directors and relatives of the winged pilots.