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Insurgency: NAF upgrades Alpha Jets’ avionics to enhance operational safety, reliability

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Senator Iroegbu

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has stated that the ongoing in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) of some Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jets include significant avionics upgrades that would enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of air operations conducted with the aircraft against Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.

The PDM is being executed at the 407 Air Combat Training Group (407 ACTG) Kainji, Niger State as part of measures being championed to tackle the emerging security challenges across the country with the available resources.

Abubakar disclosed this in a statement on Friday by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, that the upgrades of the aircraft avionics is being done in collaboration with partners from the United States.

The CAS was accompanied by other senior officers from Headquarters (HQ) NAF as well as the Air Officer Commanding Air Training Command (AOC ATC), Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Suleiman, on November 21,  2019, while on an inspection visit to to assess progress of the PDM as well as other ongoing projects at NAF Base Kainji.

He was briefed on the progress of work by the Commander 407 ACTG, Squadron Leader Kingsley Igwegbe, who stated that the team of technical expatriates from Arlington Jets, United State of America, working jointly with NAF engineers and technicians, had begun work on preparing some of the parts of the airframe of the aircraft that had been shipped abroad for repairs and returned to Nigeria for mounting on the aircraft, while the upgrade of the avionics to meet current acceptable standards was progressing steadily. 

He observed that “the avionics upgrade would not only enhance operational safety but also increase the reliability and effectiveness of the aircraft”. 
He noted that “the challenges associated with unavailability of the spares for the old system would be eliminated as spares would now be readily available for prompt maintenance”, and pledged that the team would continue to work tirelessly to ensure the job was completed on schedule.

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The CAS further  expressed satisfaction at the level of work done on the first three Alpha Jets and commended the Commander 407 ACTG as well as the team of NAF engineers and technicians for their hard work, commitment and dedication in ensuring steady progress of the job. He urged them not to relent in their efforts at ensuring excellent and timely completion of the job. He emphasized that, apart from hastening the overall timeframe of the maintenance job, the in-country PDM, would allow the NAF personnel involved in the project to build their capacity to enable them ultimately carry out major aspects of such high level maintenance activities on their own in the future.

To this end, he urged the personnel to make maximum use of the opportunity to enhance NAF’s self-reliance, adding   that completion of the in-country PDM would boost the NAF’s Air Power employment capability by increasing the number of Alpha Jet aircraft available for combat operations in the various Theatres of Operation. 

Abubakar  recalled that a similar life extension maintenance had been carried out recently on three L-39ZA aircraft in Kano, while an in-country PDM was also successfully carried out on a C-130 Hercules aircraft in Lagos, with the PDM of another C-130 also currently ongoing. 

He also disclosed that reactivation work on another Mi-35P helicopter was also in progress is in Portharcourt, while highlighting that, apart from building the capacity of NAF personnel, these local maintenance efforts had also resulted huge foreign exchange savings for the Nation. 

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