By Lazarus Zakaa, Abuja.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has expressed satisfaction with the progress of work on the ongoing in-country Life Extension Programme (LEP) on 3 L-39ZA aircraft at the 403 Flying Training School (403 FTS), Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base Kano.
He stated that the fleet reactivation efforts on the L-39 ZAs in Kano as well as on the Alpha Jet aircraft in Kainji, F-7Mi aircraft in Makurdi and C-130H aircraft in Ikeja, amongst others, clearly shows that the Federal Government is doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the NAF has the required assets to protect Nigeria.
Air Marshal Abubakar made this known today, 27 November 2020, while on an operational visit to Kano to assess the LEP work on the 3 L-39ZA which commenced on 6 November 2020.
The LEP, which involves in-depth inspection of main and crucial components of the airframe, engine, avionics and escape system of the aircraft, is being executed by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of the aircraft, Messrs Aerovodochody of Czech Republic, with support from NAF engineers and technicians.
Speaking after inspecting ongoing work on one of the L-39ZA aircraft and witnessing the ground-running of another which has been successfully reactivated, the CAS, who was accompanied on the visit by Air Officer Commanding Air Training Command (AOC ATC) and some Branch Chiefs from Headquarters NAF, stated that the ongoing work was part of the overall efforts to ensure that every asset in the NAF is mobilized, made serviceable and put to use in order to ensure the security and stability of Nigeria.
“I am very excited that this morning we have witnessed the ground-running of one of the reactivated L-39ZA aircraft.
“We are hoping that before the end of December 2020, we would have completed the LEP on the 3 aircraft and be able to roll them out for operations.
This will certainly add value to what we are doing in terms of fighting insurgency in the North East as well as armed banditry in the North West, particularly in Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna States.
Apart from the L-39ZA aircraft, we are also expecting that the Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) on 2 Alpha Jets, which is currently ongoing in Kainji, would also be completed to boost the efforts in ensuring that the country is secured”, he said.
Speaking further, the CAS recalled that he had visited Makurdi a few weeks ago to assess progress on the reactivation of 9 F-7Ni fighter aircraft, the execution of which was being supported by the Federal Government.
He disclosed that 2 of the F-7 aircraft would be overhauled in Makurdi, while 7 aircraft, which require high level, in-depth maintenance by the Original Equipment Manufacturer, were being airfreighted to China due to the unavailability of all the necessary maintenance and test equipment within Nigeria.
He highlighted that the most exciting feature of the ongoing reactivation efforts was the fact that some of the work was being done in-country, thereby affording the Service the opportunity to build the capacity of significant number of its engineers and technicians.
He observed, for instance, that the LEP on the L-39ZA was being conducted in Kano for the second time in the last 5 years.
He also noted that the PDM on the Alpha Jet aircraft was also being done in Kainji for the second time, just like the F-7Ni LEP which was being done for the second time in Makurdi, in the last 5 years.
“We have equally successfully carried out PDM on C-130H aircraft twice in Ikeja and we are preparing for the third one”, he added.
The CAS noted that, in addition to the reactivation of aircraft, the NAF has about 200 personnel undergoing various air and ground training courses in 9 different countries.
These, he said, included 4 pilots from 403 FTS Kano undergoing training in the Czech Republic, where the L-39ZA is manufactured. He therefore expressed profound appreciation to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the National Assembly, for their immense support to the Service.
“We equally solicit the support of all Nigerians to the NAF, and indeed the entire Armed Forces, as we continue to work round the clock to ensure that our country is secured and our people can pursue their legitimate aspirations without any hinderance”, the CAS added.
He also commended the AOC ATC, Air Vice Marshal Musa Mukhtar, and the Commander 403 FTS for their efforts in ensuring that the initiative of looking inwards continues to produce more capable NAF engineers and technicians, thereby consolidating inherent capabilities whilst saving the Country precious foreign exchange.