President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Kaduna unveiled the first indigenous drone developed by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, named TSAIGUMI, is meant to boost the operational capacity of the Nigerian military.
Commissioning the drone, President Buhari said, “From the military perspective, the added capacity for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance provided by the TSAIGUMI will boost ongoing and future security operations.
“As this project moves into the next stage, which is mass production, it would create employment and possibly generate revenue as Nigeria’s first military export product.’’
According to him, the technological feat is an indication that there is potential to apply the same innovative mindset to addressing other areas of indigenous technological needs.
“While I commend the Nigerian Air Force for this accomplishment, I enjoin you not to rest on this achievement but to strive harder in your research and development efforts for greater innovation.
“Be assured of this administration’s support towards the attainment of greater technological milestones for our nation.’’
The president reiterated the commitment of his administration to take Nigeria to the next level of growth and development.
“We remain determined to overcome all challenges to our security and development as a nation. I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to join hands with us to make our collective dreams of greatness a reality,’’ he said.
“Government remains determined despite numerous challenges to bring about the much-needed change that will lift our beloved nation to its rightful place as a major economic and political force on the world stage.
“Part of our drive to achieve this goal is to enable enterprise and the improvement of the quality of life through massive improvement of national infrastructure.
“Accordingly, as I outlined in my New Year Day broadcast to the nation, this administration has designed series of key projects to dramatically overhaul national infrastructure and overcome the deficit in that vital area.”
The president noted that the role of the military as an enabler of national development was well known as there cannot be national development without a guarantee of national security.
He added: “In this regard, let me once more commend the gallant men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies for their tireless efforts towards defeating Boko Haram and all other threats to our nation’s security, thus ensuring that the government can proceed with its developmental activity without hindrance.
“Let me again commend the Nigerian Air Force leadership for the unprecedented feat it has attained on Research and Development.
“I am aware that the Air Force was the overall best in the recently concluded 2017 National Technology and Innovation Exposition under Research Institute category.
“Accordingly, its drive, determination and unwavering support brought about numerous significant innovations, not least of which is the TSAIGUMI which I am inducting today.
“It is indeed most gratifying that the Nigerian Air Force has gone a step further than simply acquiring them, to developing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capabilities with indigenous technology.
“This outstanding accomplishment, for which we are gathered today, holds promise of both military and economic benefit to the nation.’’
Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, had disclosed that the unmanned vehicle had a “mission range of 100km, a service ceiling at 15,000 feet and operational endurance of about 10 hours.’’
He assured of NAF’s determination “to harness, promote, commercialise and diffuse locally developed technologies for the production of globally competitive goods and services that intensively utilise Nigeria’s raw materials for national development.
“This is necessary because it is through R&D (research and development) that nations technologically advance and enhance their productivity, spur economic growth and address societal concerns such as health, energy, environment, defence and security.
“Besides, to be effective and efficient in dealing with contemporary security challenges posed by non-state actors, there is the need to build capacity to develop smarter and highly sophisticated indigenous platforms as well as compact and mobile forces that use information technology to get real time intelligence necessary for military operations.”
Sadiq added that the NAF Research and Development Centre established in 2015 had so far successfully repaired the CH-3A Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) that had been grounded for over four months due to lack of spare parts.
“Since its reactivation on 2nd January, 2018, the UCAV has conducted several missions which have positively impacted on our Operations in the North East.`
“As I speak, the UCAV is engaged in combat missions in the North East,” he stated.