The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Day Celebration 2017 has ended in Makurdi, Benue state with the induction of 2 new Mi-35M attack helicopters.
The closing ceremony also witnessed the presentation of ceremonial colour to the newly established Special Operations Command (SOC) and the award of pilot wings to 6 NAF pilots. '
The newly winged pilots comprised 2 from King Hussain Air College Jordan and 4 from International Helicopter Flying School, Enugu.
The induction of newly acquired helicopter gunships will further enhance NAF operational effectiveness and capability in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminalities in the country.
The modern Mi-35M attack helicopter has night capabilities in comparison to the earlier version and also has higher performance, more endurance and it is fitted with glass cockpit to enhance situational awareness during operations.
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The helicopter provides fire support on the battle field and increase mobility of surface forces. Additionally, its sighting and computing allow for the precise delivery of its ordinances thereby minimising the risk of collateral damage.
The induction ceremony was performed by the President and Commander -in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Honourable Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammad Dan-Ali.
Speaking during the ceremony, the President stated that the induction of the Mi-35M helicopters into the inventory of the NAF would add impetus to the combat efficiency of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
According to the President, the successes recorded so far against the Boko Haram terrorists (BHT) were made possible through training and acquisition of platforms and equipment for the Armed Forces and other security agencies.
“Training and the recent acquisition of brand new platforms and other supporting equipment for our armed forces including other security agencies were also intensified.
"This was in practical fulfilment of my promise to re-professionalise and adequately equip our military so they could effectively discharge their constitutional responsibilities.
"The successes recorded so far have restored our pride and honour in the comity of nations. I urge you to consolidate on the gains of air power towards sustaining the peace and stability we have attained so far.”
While delivering his welcome address, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar traced the history of the NAF from its humble beginning, to an air force that has become a force to be reckoned with not only in Africa but in the world.
The active participation of the NAF in various peace keeping operations especially the recent OPERATION RESTORE DEMOCARCY in Gambia which saw NAF as the only air force with combat deployment in the resolution of the Gambian political impasse was also emphasised.
The CAS praised the efforts of gallant officers and men who have paid the supreme price in the protection and preservation of the independence and sovereignty of Nigeria.
“We equally salute the courage of our living officers, airmen/airwomen that have participated and are still participating in these conflict areas.
"It is important to note, in particular, that since the advent of the current administration, the NAF has recorded remarkable achievements in the area of capacity building and operational effectiveness.
"These achievements would have been unrealisable without the support and exemplary leadership of Mr President and the Commander-in-Chief.”
The newly winged NAF pilots were Flying Officers Abubakar Dagash, Damilare Ibukun, David Dilimono, Abubakar Abdukadir, Godwin Ikechukwu and Pilot Officer Ejiofor Alu.
Other activities during the closing ceremony were aerial and static display of various NAF platforms and hardware as well as a colourful ceremonial parade.
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