With the US Embargo in Place, Nigeria Looks to Russia, Others for Arms

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  • NAF to induct 10 attack aircraft to inventory
  • Creates 4 new regiments, K9 unit

Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Federal Government has responded to the subsisting arms embargo imposed by the United States (US) by approaching countries of the Eastern bloc and Southern hemisphere to acquire the needed arms and ammunition for the ongoing counter-terrorism operations in parts of the country.

To this end, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has disclosed that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been given approval to acquire and induct at least 10 attack aircraft into its arsenal.

Abubakar made this disclosure on Wednesday in Abuja at the NAF’s Operations seminar tagged: “Developing Effective Air Power Responses to National Security Challenges in Nigeria”.

He gave breakdown of the expected aircraft to include four Mi-35m attack helicopters from Russia, three Super Tucano from Brazil and three JF-17 Thunder from Pakistan.

In addition, he said that another 10 Super Mushack primary trainer from Pakistan would be inducted into the NAF service.

While responding to journalists’ questions, Abubakar assured that the ongoing US arms embargo will not stop the countries in question, especially Brazilians, from selling the A-29 Super Tucano fighter aircraft to Nigeria like it did to Israel in 2014.

He further assured that despite the arms embargo, the US has in recent times shown willingness to assist in the country’s counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts in the North East.

“All I can tell you is that the US is supporting in the North East; they are helping us with a lot of intelligence, so I don’t see any reason why we should have difficulties,” he insisted.

The Air Force Chief, however, said that NAF is not resting on its oars to make the service more self-reliant and has, in line with his leadership vision, reactivated about 13 aircraft that were hitherto grounded for years due to lack of maintenance and questionable flying status.

“These aircraft include three Mi-24V/35P, two EC-135, one Beechcraft, one Falcon, one Super Puma, one DA-42, two DO-228 and two A-109LUHs,” he said.

Against this backdrop, Abubakar said that the NAF has, in response to its expanded role ongoing war against terror, trained over 700 personnel comprising 40 pilots outside and 27 pilots within the country.

In the same vein, he said the service has increased its platforms and increased recruitment into the service from 500 to 2,500, as well as “approved the creation of four regiment groups under our newly created Special Operations Command, which will soon take off in Gusau, Owerri, Bauchi and Ipetu Ijesha”.

Speaking further, Abubakar revealed that the service trained 325 special forces in anti-hijacking, counter terrorism and Very Important Personality(VIP) protection with some already in the North East operation.

The CAS also used the occasion to the to induct the newly created NAF K9 Dod Unit into the service.

“I want to say that getting the equipment on the detection of bombs and training of people on their use was quite expensive, which made it less cheaper for the acquisition of locally bred dogs that are trained on bomb detection,” he said.