The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) have increased efforts to build its airlift capability as a strategy to enhance military performance in support of United Nations and African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Africa by procuring a new range of aircraft to its fleet; a Boeing 737-500 series for airlifting troops.
The Minister of State for Defence, Olusola Obada, commissioned the aircraft yesterday at 209 Executive Airlift Group Hanger, Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
Obada, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Alhaji Aliyu Ismaila, commended NAF’s efforts at their new awakening to becoming one of the best in Africa and the world.
The minister stated that the growth of Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Service (AETS) through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement was not a surprise because of the competent hands that were in the helms of affairs.
She said: “With the coming on board of this Boeing 737-500 series, it is hoped that the NAF will build its airlift capability in support of United Nations and African Union Peace Support Mission.”
Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Alex Badeh, said the Boeing 737-500 was to complement the airlift of men and materials for various peace keeping missions in Africa.
Badeh believe that with additional aircraft and increased capacity, it simply implies “that where ever NAF is on ground, safety is guaranteed.”
The Group Managing Director, Nigerian Air Force Holding Company (NAFHC), Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Kure, who also noted that the launching of the new troop carrier was made possible through the tripod partnership with Solicom Engineering Nigeria Limited, Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Service of NAFHC.
He stated that the aircraft would commence operation with initial client base mainly of the Armed forces, Police and other para-military services, though it would also be available for charter.
“One of the statutory responsibilities of the NAF is to airlift men and materials into the theatres of operation. Due to high rate of movement, the NAF, in some cases, had to go into lease with other airlines to airlift men and materials for such operations.
“It is believed that with the introduction of the United Nigeria Airlines, which is the name the aircraft would be operating with, the dependence on the other private airlines would reduce,” he stressed.