By Kingsley Omonobi
Ahead of the expected delivery of more fighter aircraft to the Nigerian Airforce for prosecution of the war against insurgency, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has commissioned a newly constructed Aircraft Hangar, which is large enough to house 12 Alpha jets along with associated equipment.
The CAS inaugurated the hangar on Sunday while on operational visit to Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri even as he restated the commitment of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to ensuring security in the Northeast of the Country, working in concert with sister Services and other security agencies.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar remarked that his frequent visits to the Northeast Theatre were aimed at keeping constantly abreast of activities of the ATF with a view to ensuring that frontline personnel have the support they deserve and that their welfare needs are met for enhanced professional performance.
He therefore expressed delight to again be in Maiduguri to interact with the troops as well as to encourage them to remain committed to their duties while being proud of the sacrifices made to ensure that Nigeria is secured and its people protected from the purveyors of evil.
The CAS further disclosed that Headquarters NAF, on its part, would continue to provide the requirements of the ATF to sustain its effectiveness in the performance of its assigned tasks.
According to him, “We will do everything humanly possible to provide all your requirements to ensure you are effective in the discharge of your duties”.
The CAS remarked that it was in furtherance of this commitment that the Aircraft Hangar being commissioned was disassembled from its erstwhile location in another NAF Unit, where it was underutilized and relocated and re-assembled in Maiduguri, where, he said, it would undoubtedly be more effectively utilized for enhanced operations.
He added that the relocation of the hangar was brought about by the observation that NAF Technicians had, over the years, been carrying out maintenance activities in the harsh Maiduguri weather, where temperatures reach as high as 48 to 50 degrees Celsius, in order to ensure that there were serviceable aircraft for the pilots to fly.
Moreover, the CAS noted that the harsh weather conditions also have adverse effects on the avionics and other sensitive equipment of the aircraft when they are left out in the open, exposed to the harsh Maiduguri weather.
He said it was therefore decided that a hangar needed to be provided to give some level of comfort to the personnel engaged in maintenance activities so that they can work in a less stressful environment, rather than in the open.
This, he said, would also preserve the life of the aircraft, especially the avionics and other sensitive equipment.
Air Marshal Abubakar disclosed that the entire project, including the building of the enclosed offices and other facilities within the Hangar as well as the extension of the apron, was executed through direct labour by the NAF Directorate of Services.
The CAS concluded his remarks by commending the Commander ATF as well as his subordinate Commanders, officers and men of the ATF for their efforts, noting that there was no other alternative than to put in their very best to defend the Nation and its values.
He urged them to continue to work hard and remain focused on the task of ensuring that Nigeria’s territorial integrity was not undermined, whilst avoiding distractions from unscrupulous individuals and subversive elements.
Earlier in his welcome address, the ATF Commander, Air Commodore Precious Amadi, while thanking the CAS for his frequent visits as well as his continued commitment to the welfare of personnel of the ATF, restated the ATF’s firm dedication to the fight against insurgency in the Northeast.
Before departing Maiduguri, the CAS, who was accompanied on the visit by the NAF Chiefs of Training and Operations as well as Aircraft Engineering, was briefed, behind closed doors, by the ATF Commander on the status of ongoing air operations.