By Tarkaa David, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force has winged four additional pilots after a successful basic training and two operational pilots after successful tactical training bringing the total number of winged pilots to 118 in the last five years.
The Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar speaking at the combined graduation of Basic Flying Course 19 (Batch A) and Tactical Flying Course 24 (Batch B) charged the newly winged Pilots not to rest on their oars.
“This ceremony is one in the series of remarkable strides of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) towards capacity building to reposition the Service into a highly professional and disciplined force that would respond swiftly to Nigeria’s security imperatives.
“Today, we have witnessed the decoration of 4 pilots with their basic pilot wings on completion of their Basic Flying Course and the award of Combat Rating to 2 operational pilots who have completed the Tactical Flying Course on the Alpha Jet aircraft,” he said.
He added “human capacity development is one of the Key Drivers of my Vision and has received much attention since I assumed office as the 20th Chief of the Air Staff.
“This is evident in the number of personnel that have been trained in various courses, both locally and overseas. Indeed, today’s graduation brings the total number of new pilots winged since 2015 to 118, which is a glowing testament to the efficacy of our capacity building initiatives”.
He reiterated that the pilots have continued to add value to the efforts of the Service in dealing with security challenges in the North East, North West and other parts of the country.
He revealed further that 21 NAF officers are currently undergoing various pilot training courses outside the country, adding that by the end of 2020, the service would have completed the training and winged 139 pilots.
He therefore commended the indigenous training institutions for playing a crucial role towards the attainment of the services capacity building initiatives.
“It is therefore pleasing to note that 403 Flying Training School, Kano and 407 Air Combat Training Group, Kainji where the graduands were trained have continued to set the pace in the provision of high-quality fighter pilot training” he said.
To the newly winged pilots, “You should be keenly aware that the feat you have achieved also comes with a burden of responsibility and so much will be expected of you not only by the NAF but indeed the Nigerian people whose scarce resources was used to train you. I therefore urge you to continue to give your best to the Service and the nation. “The NAF cannot be strong and effective without our collective contributions no matter how modest they may be. Thus, you must be confident, courageous and patriotic in the discharge of your duties in the Ops theatres that you may be deployed to”.
He continued “For the operational pilots, I know the past 18 months have been particularly tedious with series of training sorties and several tactical manoeuvres executed to the high standards expected of NAF fighter pilots.
“All these were aimed at giving you the requisite skills necessary to prepare you for the tasks ahead. I must emphasize that, now that you have earned your Limited Combat Rating, you will be required to work harder and fly with more precision in order to meet up with the expectations of Nigerians in the various operational theatres. There shall be no hiding place for armed bandits or terrorists in any of our forests,” .
The CAS emphasised that the pilots having been equipped with the requisite skills/training for their expected roles, must keep in mind that, in the race to add value to our society and secure our nation, there will never be a finish line. “The race will be a continuous one until we are able to deal with every threat to our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. You must work closely and collaboratively with other Security agencies to actualize our joint strategy of dealing with the enemies of Nigeria” he added.
Air Marshal Abubakar noted ” I must note, with pride that among the graduands of today’s ceremony is a female officer who was decorated barely one year ago as the first female fighter pilot in the NAF.
“She has indeed made history yet again, by successfully completing the Tactical Flying Training on the Alpha Jet aircraft. Together with her colleagues, they are now better trained and prepared to be deployed for combat missions in the ongoing counter-insurgency air operations in the North-East and other parts of the country.
“You will go down in the history of our nation as the first female fighter pilot to undertake combat missions in defence of our freedom and sacred values. You will be undertaking combat missions to assert our right to our territory and protect the lives and property of our people. What an achievement. Congratulations”.