The Nigerian Air Force has said 158 officers and men are undergoing training to become pilots and acquire skills to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency and other security challenges in the country.
Our correspondent learnt that the Specialised Undergraduate Pilot Training and helicopter training are ongoing in the United States of America, South Africa, United Kingdom, Pakistan and others, while a few of the pilots are being trained in Nigeria.
The air force said on Wednesday that 91 officers and men concluded their training as pilots in 2018 while 67 including two female combat pilots would conclude by 2019.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who confirmed the training, said new skills and knowledge were required to “add value to the counter-terrorism war in the North-East as well as the ongoing operations in other parts of the country.”
The air chief spoke while winging one of the combat pilots, Flying Officer Salihu Usman, who completed a Basic Fighter Introduction Course in the United States.
Abubakar said, “One of our young pilots is returning to the country at a time when the NAF, with the support of the Federal Government, is about to receive additional combat platforms in the A-29 Super Tucano and JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Fighter. These new platforms will improve our ability to respond more effectively to the national security imperatives.
“We advise the officers to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills to the counter-terrorism operations in the North-East as well as operations in other parts of the country.”
Our correspondent learnt that Usman, of the 62nd Regular Combatant Course, has been trained at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, United Kingdom, and in the United States, where he got the US Air Force Silver Wing.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the 158 combat pilots were trained between 2015 and 2019.
He said, “The Chief of the Air Staff winged another combat pilot, Flying Officer Salihu Usman, on Tuesday bringing to 91 the number of pilots winged in three years. It is, therefore, expected that by 2019, there will be 158 new pilots in four years. Among the pilots is the first female NAF student fighter pilot, undergoing training in the USA, while another female student pilot is undergoing helicopter training in South Africa.”