By Yahaya Isah
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has graduated four fighter pilots from its 403 Flying Training School (403 FTS) in Kano State.
The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
Adesanya said the feat was in furtherance of the human capacity development efforts of the current NAF leadership.
He said the young pilots commenced training at 403 FTS, Kano, in 2016, as part of Jet Training Course 1, after they had successfully completed the Basic Flying Course in the United Kingdom.
“With the successful graduation, the number of fighter pilots available for operations in NAF has increased thereby giving impetus to the ongoing fight against insurgency in the North-East, cattle rustling in the North-West and other forms of criminalities,” he said.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, was represented at the occasion by the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Air Training Command, AVM Christopher Okoye.
Abubakar noted that the increase in number of young pilots that were flying NAF Platforms now was a departure from what obtained in the recent past when senior officers were the ones flying.
“Today, most of the pilots flying NAF platforms, including the C-130 aircraft, are flight lieutenants and flying officers,” he said.
The CAS noted that following extensive training, platform acquisition and reactivation of grounded aircraft fleet, NAF could fulfill its statutory roles across the broad spectrum of national air power tasks.
He said that some of NAF’s L-39ZA aircraft had been modified into combat aircraft as part of efforts to enhance the combat readiness of NAF.
According to him, the rebuilding process continues to enhance the service manpower capacity as well as status of the NAF fleet.
Abubakar said the achievement was made possible by the continuous support of the Federal Government.
He urged the graduating pilots to be selfless as they set out to start rendering their service to the country and NAF.
“This is a day to feel proud and to congratulate yourselves on your hard work and achievements.
“It is also a time when you must begin to prepare yourselves to justify the efforts and resources expended on your training up to this stage.
“Remember to whom much is given much is expected. Therefore, as you assume your next responsibilities in NAF, it is expected of you to show the quality of training received both home and abroad”, he said.
High points of the ceremony include: an aerial display by the instructor and the graduating pilots, while those who distinguished themselves on the Jet Training Course in various categories were honoured.
Adesanya said the decision of the CAS on assumption of duty to make capacity building the focus of his administration was currently yielding good results.
NAF had recently graduated 16 ab-initio student pilots, including two female cadets from 401 Flying Training School in Kaduna State.