By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Nigerian Air Force said on Monday in Yola, Adamawa, that it flew 6773 hours in 2,105 missions and 3,534 sorties in its operations in the North-East in 2016
The Air Officer Commanding, Tactical Air Command, Air Vice Marshal Nurudeen Balogun, made this known while briefing the Federal Government team and representatives of Bring Our Girls Back (BBOG) on tour of the North-East.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his Defence counterpart, Mansur Dan- Alli, led the team.
Nurudeen said that over N2 billion was used for Jet A1 fuel for aircrafts, excluding the cost of maintenance and consumables during the period.
Giving update on significant operations conducted within the period, he said that crackdown on the insurgents was organised by the Theatre Command, which commenced on April 25, 2016 and lasted for 23 days.
“A total of 348 sorties were generated by the air component for the operation that led to the capture of Alargano, the supposedly spiritual headquarters of Boko Haram.
“The intensity of the operation of crackdown forced some breakaway groups of the Boko Haram insurgents to move towards the far North.
“The Multi-national Joint Task Force initiated Operation Gama Aiki and very important location, Malamfatori, was captured on Sept. 27, 2016,’’ he said.
He said that Operation Forest Storm was also organised by the headquarters of the Nigerian Air Force, which aimed at identifying Boko Haram targets at Sambisa with a view to degrading the capacity of the insurgents.
The commanding officer disclosed that a seven-day operation between Oct. 22 and Oct. 28, with 55 missions, was a precursor for the Operation Rescue Finale that was going on in the region.
According to him, the Operation Rescue Finale which commenced Nov. 1, 2016, was instrumental to the Dec. 22, 2016 fall of Camp Zairo, the major stronghold of Boko Hram.
In his contribution, the Air Component Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Air Commodore Charles Owoh, said that during the operation, the Air Force carried out medical outreach programmes in military hospitals at Balori and Bama.
He said that as a result of government’s commitment to ending the insurgency in the region, not less than five serviceable surveillance aircraft were now operational, compared to only one in July, 2015.