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The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will take delivery of war -planes and helicopters from Pakistan and Russia to boost its fleet ahead of the final push against Boko Haram insurgents, it was learnt yesterday.
Nigeria has failed to procure fighter jets from the United States and Brazil.
Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who broke the news in Abuja, said  Air Force personnel were undergoing training in many countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Egypt and China.
The news came as Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai ordered his men to end the insurgency this month.
Air Marshal Abubakar said: “We have been enjoying support from other countries. Sometimes arms procurement is shrouded in a lot of politics. Unfortunately, I’m not a politician, so I cannot say much on that. But what I can tell you is that right now we are expecting the Pakistani Chief of Air Staff in Nigeria soon. Pakistan has accepted to sell 10 trainer airplanes. And that is why the Pakistan Chief of Air Staff is coming for the induction ceremony in Kaduna.”
The Chief of Air Staff said the Air Force was assisting the Army and the Navy in the North and South fighting terrorism and militancy through operational strategy, air interdictions strategy and soft-core strategy.
He said the objective was to create an enabling environment for the ground and surface forces to operate with little or no hindrance.
He said the Service was carrying out massive reactivation of redundant aircraft and many of them are already involved in the fight against Boko Haram.

“Another sub -strategy is the reactivation of airplanes. We have embarked on the reactivation of airplanes and today we are on the 13th aircraft. What I mean by reactivation is that aircraft that were not involved in any fight before the coming of this Federal Government; they were parked before but are today part of the fight. 

“The 13th aircraft as I speak to you is being worked upon in Yola and we are hoping that before the end of this month that airplane will be flying. When you train, you must reactivate the platform to be used in flying.”
He praised the competence of NAF pilots, saying:  “In the last 18 months, we have flown almost 3000 hours with no incident. The pilots are among the most competent. Because the training curriculum is very clear. And that is why now in the Air Force you look at the wings, pilots wear wings. We have categorised the wings according to their skill levels.
“We also organise simulation training for our pilots, we organise evaluation visits where pilots are evaluated without any notice. We have also sent over 700 personnel of the NAF to different parts of the world to train and acquire the skills required for them to be effective.
On the incident involving  an Augusta AW101 helicopter which was handed over to the NAF from the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF).
Air Marshal Abubakar said: “What happened in Makurdi was not a crash.
Immediately we received the aircraft from the Presidency, we took one of them to Kaduna to paint it into desert camouflage. They removed the seal of the President and painted it into a combat machine.
“When they finished the painting, they were supposed to go to Maiduguri but they needed to go to Makurdi to pick certain things before proceeding to Maiduguri. So the aircraft took off from Kaduna,
landed perfectly in Makurdi. They were just taxiing to go and park when the incident happened. I don’t want to pre-empt whatever investigation that is going on.
“Those same pilots were the ones that picked the 21 Chibok girls that were moved out in the night and brought them back to Maiduguri and from Maiduguri to Abuja. So accidents happen and we are investigating to find out why it happened and we will make it public when we get the picture of what really happened.”

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