The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Wednesday recorded a historic feat by deploying its locally reactivated aircraft, C-130H, NAF 913, to support ongoing operations against insurgency in the North-east.
Giving the recent pockets of terrorist attacks in the North-east, the deployment will also see the aircraft carry fresh troops to the theatre of operations to complement the efforts of the troops on ground.
The aircraft was locally reactivated for a period of nine months at the Nigerian Air Force Aircraft Maintenance Depot, Ikeja, Lagos after an in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM), the first of its kind, was carried out on it.
The in-country PDM is one of the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar’s multiplier effects to curb capital flight by domesticating such repairs in the country using personnel as local manpower.
At its inauguration and subsequent deployment Wednesday in Lagos, Abubakar said the aircraft is very critical in what the service was doing all over the country.
He said the aircraft which went through PDM in Lagos would be used to move troops, equipment, armour to the North-east, as well as embark on other missions.
He said: “This aircraft is very critical to what we are doing and we are very excited that we are able to handle the major maintenance such as the PDM.
“This is the second C-130 we are able to conduct PDM locally here in Ikeja, and our desire is that we are able to conduct the third one which is NAF-918 and I believe it is possible with the level of training our men have received and the various external teams who were involved in the PDM.
“It is very clear to us that we are building the required capacity and Nigerians are now going to be fully involved in this maintenance. It took us nine months to conduct this exercise and if we were to conduct the PDM outside it would have cost us a whole lot.
“What you have seen today is value addition, the fact that this aircraft is now serviceable means it is going to add value to what we are doing. I want to assure Nigerians that we will continue to work round the clock to ensure that Nigeria is safe and secured.
“Security is not purely a military issue, there are some dimensions to security, and I think we are all working together to ensure that the country is secured and we will get there.
“The fact that this aircraft was not flying before and from today it will start flying and that means we have more capacity for airlift and move our resources to battle.”
According to him, “One critical aspect of air power is strategic airlift capability. This important requirement of the NAF is essential to the deployment and sustenance of forces across distant battlefields.
“In this regard, judicious efforts were made to locally conduct PDM of three C-130H aircraft; NAF 917, 913 and 918 so as to boost combat support efforts for Armed Forces’ operations across the country.”
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Lawal Alao, said since its inception in July 2015, the current NAF leadership has emplaced several measures to guarantee effective and efficient air power delivery.
He stated that major among these is the administration’s focus on human capacity development for self reliance in the maintenance of NAF platforms and associated support equipment.
“To achieve this lofty objective, the current NAF administration has intensified the conduct of in-country PDM which before now was conducted overseas on selected NAF aircraft including the C-130H fleet,” he said.