The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday (6-01-2017) held a media brief to apprise its activities in year 2016. The objective was to give account of NAF stewardship in the light of its statutory roles in the preceding year. Areas of focus include operational activities, logistics, training, research and development, and provision of infrastructural, educational and welfare facilities. Excepts of the paper presented by the Director of Operations, AVM Oladayo Amao during the briefing is enclosed below.
BRIEF ON NIGERIAN AIR FORCE ACTIVITIES IN 2016
1. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in furtherance of its statutory roles of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria carried out various activities in 2016 which contributed greatly to the restoration of peace, security, humanitarian efforts and wellbeing of Nigerians. During this period, the NAF projected air power in various roles that softened the ground for the surface forces and led to the eventual decimation of the operational capability of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in the North East (NE). It also contributed troops for Internal Security operations. Being mindful of the importance of human capacity development and improved welfare of its personnel, the NAF also carried out training activities both within and outside the country as well as providing basic infrastructural facilities to enhance service delivery.
2. The most fundamental mission of the NAF is to protect Nigeria’s sovereignty, citizens, values, interests, resources and territory against internal and external threats. It could be recalled that at assumption of office by the current government, the security situation in the country was far from desired and efforts to reverse the trend was one of the most pursued agenda of the president, Commander-in-Chief. Hence, as the air component commander of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) of the NAF, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar is poised to bequeath a highly trained, better equipped, and strategically positioned air force to respond appropriately to the policy dictates of the Government. Thus, the CAS vision was 'To reposition the NAF into a highly professional and discipline force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria's national security imperatives'. This policy thrust with well tailored key drivers has kept the focus of low level strategic and tactical commanders to a synergized efforts that repositioned the NAF to effectively respond to its tasking. Accordingly, this brief will give an overview of NAF’s effort towards enhancing the operational effectiveness of its platforms and the highlights of current operations involving the NAF. Thereafter, it will appraise NAF operational activities, before discussing the aspects of training, provision of basic infrastructural, educational and welfare facilities. The brief will however not cover classified and certain operational details for obvious reasons.
3. The aim of this brief is to acquaint the media with NAF activities in 2016.
EFFORTS TOWARDS ENHANCING OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS OF NAF PLATFORMS
4. The NAF was involved in multiple operations in the Year 2016. These include OP SAFE HAVEN, OP AWATSE, OP DELTA SAFE, OP SHARAN DAJI and OP LAFIYA DOLE. The bombing attacks and terror activities of BHTs in the NE, cattle rustlings/bandit activities in the North West (NW) and militant activities/oil vandalism in the South-South (SS) and South-West (SW) of the country warranted the deployment of Nigerian Armed Forces (AFN) to the affected regions to restore peace and security.
5. Strategic roles of the NAF in these operations was force generation and ensuring combat readiness towards supporting surface forces. The NAF conducted a variety of missions in the year 2016 from its staging Bases at 103 STG Yola, 115 SOG PH, 403 FTS Kaduna and 451 NAF Stn Jos in support of the operations employing a number of its air assets which included the alpha Jet, F-7Ni and the CH3A UCAV. Others were the Super Puma, Agusta 109 LUH/E, ATR-42MPA and the Beechcraft King Air 350i. The Mi-17 and Mi-35M/Mi-24P hel gunships, C 130 H, DO 228 ac and the DA-42 MPP also played prominent roles in the operations. These missions involved Armed Recce (AR), Air Interdiction (AI), CAS and CAP. Others were CSAR, ISR, logistic resupply and CASEVAC. It is imperative to note that these missions were aided by the effective monitoring of the entire operations area based on real time INTREP from grd tps through the ATF and from ISR missions conducted by the ATR-42 MPA, KA-350i and Diamond 42 ac, thereby avoiding serious collateral damages. Furthermore, the NAF Regiments’ special forces were adequately deployed for base defences, particularly in securing the airports and the deployed air assets for OP LAFIYA DOLE. Some of the efforts to enhance the operational effectiveness of these platforms in 2016 included:
a. Upgrade of 3 A-Jet Weapons System. Three A-jet ac which were recently acquired by the NAF had no weapons system and were limited to only training roles. To enhance the NAF capability, the 3 ac were upgraded in-house with weapons system and deployed in active combat operations in the NE with high degree of performance.
b. Upgrade of Mi-17 Helicopter. The acquired Mi-17 hel which was initially used only for SAR role was also upgraded in-house with weapons system. The heli was effectively deployed in several strike ops in the NE including night attack, which was not attainable with the hel before the upgrade.
c. Acquisition of Aircraft/Spares. Two new Mi-17 hel engines were recently acquired and installed. Also, 2 x Mi-35M hels and associated spares were recently acquired. The Mi-35 hels have just been delivered in Makurdi while arrangements are ongoing for them to be test flown and inducted into NAF. Installation of camera on Beechcraft ac NAF 202 and NAF 204, and upgrade of camera on NAF 201 were also conducted in 2016. Furthermore, 3x EC-135 hel were handed over to the NAF by NNPC in Mar 16. In collaboration with Aero-contractors Nigeria Ltd, 2 of the hel were reactivated. These included NAF 547 and NAF 548. Efforts are also on-going to carry out PDM/reactivation of 2x Mi-35P hel, NAF 530 and NAF 531.
d. Efforts at Arming Aircraft and Base Defence Vehicles. Suitable unarmed aircraft were armed, tested and effectively operated except the L-39ZA. Some of the efforts at arming aircraft and base defence vehicles include:
(1) Construction of Pintle Mounts for 12.7mm BMG on EC-135 and Mi-17 Helicopters.
(2) Arming of the L-39ZA aircraft with UB-16 launchers and Gesha-23 gun.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CURRENT OPERATIONS
OP SAFE HAVEN
6. The sectarian crisis that erupted in Jan 10 in Jos Metropolis resulted in wanton destruction of lives and property. Consequently, the FGN instituted OP SAFE HAVEN, to restore nomalcy to Jos and Plateau State in general. NAF ground troops at 451 NAF Station Jos, and some surveillance aircraft are deeply involved in the Operation.
7. OP AWATSE was constituted to stop the menace of hoodlums and petroleum pipeline vandalism in the densely-forested swamps around Arepo, Elepete, Abule Oba, Ilara, Agbowa and Gbaga communities in Lagos and Ogun States. In line with the operational end state to destroy all criminal/vandal camps in the affected areas with a view to stopping the pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the region, the operation began on 27 Jul 16 with NAF platforms conducting ISR and aerial attacks in support of the surface forces employing the A-Jet, Beechcraft and Mi-24V hel. These aircraft recorded a total of 20 sorties and logged a total of 32 hours during the period under review.
OP DELTA SAFE
8. OP DELTA SAFE previously known as OP PULO SHIELD was mounted in response to the militant activities in the Niger Delta area. Although government efforts through military action and amnesty initially brought the militancy to an end, other criminal activities persisted with the collaboration of foreign nationals. Consequently, OP PULO SHIELD transmuted into OP DELTA SAFE to stop the menace of illegal bunkering, oil theft and pipeline vandalism. The NAF units involved in the operation are 115 SOG and 107 AMG while the platforms deployed include the A-Jet, Beechcraft, Mi-24V hel, EC-135 hel and the ATR-42 ac.
OP SHARAN DAJI
9. Following the growing menace of cattle rustlers in most parts of the NW Zone of Nigeria, the FGN instituted OP SHARAN DAJI. The operation, which is basically composed of troops from 1 Div NA and the NAF Training Command has the mandate of clearing bandit camps/hideouts of cattle rustlers and other criminal activities in the North West geo-political zone. The clearing operations have just been concluded in different States and some of the rustlers KIA, with recovery of some weapons and rustled animals. The NAF deployed the DA-42, Beechcraft 350i, A109LUH for ISR as well as patrol missions for this operation. The A-Jet ac and Mi-24 hel gunships are also deployed for this operation from time to time.
OP LAFIYA DOLE
10. In the year 2016, major achievements have been recorded under Op LAFIYA DOLE in the NE. Generally, the NAF air offensive operations substantially degraded the capacity and strength of the terrorists easing the surface forces operations and eventual liberation of Sambisa Forest.
11. The Air Component comprising 103 STG located in Yola and 105 CG in Maiduguri has continued to conduct a wide range of operations in support of ground forces within the Theatre of Operations. These include ISR missions, Armed Recce (AR), Air Interdictions (AI) and Close Air Support (CAS) missions. Others are Combat Armed Patrols (CAP), CASEVAC, log re-sup missions and provision of Command Post. ISR missions by the Air Component are also supported by efforts of int operatives which have continued to provide real-time information on BHTs locations and activities throughout the theatre of operations.
12. For the year under review, a total of 6,000 hrs was flown by NAF platforms translating to Jet A-1 fuel consumption of 10,525,945 liters. Despite this extensive employment of air power, it is however impressive to note that the casualty figures of own troops were minimal due to the professionalism displayed by NAF pilots. It is also pertinent to mention some specific achievements recorded by the NAF in support of Op LAFIYA DOLE in 2016 as briefly stated in subsequent paragraphs.
13. Acquisition of New Platforms. The limited number of air assets, particularly attack hel gunships for the NAF to vigorously pursue the objectives of operation LAFIYA DOLE, were accorded priority. In this regard, 2 x Mi-35M Gunship Hel from Russia were recently acquired. The aircraft have already been delivered awaiting official induction after which they will be launched for operations.
14. Ascertaining the Location of Some Chibok Girls. The Air Component intensified ISR efforts towards determining, with significant degree of certainty, the locations where the Chibok Girls were being held. ISR/BDA missions were conducted which have contributed to the release of 21 of Chibok Girls.
15. Air Support to Surface Forces. In the year 2016, 62 per cent of Intelligence missions were conducted not only to determine the location of abducted Nigerians but to also provide battle field situational awareness for the land forces. Furthermore, many liaison/logistics and re-supply sorties were flown to move large volume of materials in support of the Land Component’s advance into Sambisa. These include ammunition, water, tyres and other stores to staging areas in support of OP CRACKDOWN. CAS, logistics resupply and ISR missions aimed at dislodging the BHTs from their enclaves were further conducted in sustenance of the offensive operations on the ground. Additionally, MEDEVAC and CASEVAC were conducted in support of the surface forces. In the beginning of Jun 16, the Air Component’s efforts were geared towards consolidating the successes achieved during NA OP CRACK DOWN. Considerable number of AR and some AI, CAS and CAP sorties were flown to further degrade BHTs capabilities. These missions were conducted in Northern Borno and the Sambisa general area. Specifically they include:
a. Support to MNJTF OPGAMA AIKI and OP FOREST STORM. The NAF was fighting in 2 fronts in support of NA Ops GAMA AIKI and FOREST STORM. In support of these operations, intensive ISR missions were conducted to monitor the activities within the known BHT strongholds in Sambisa Forest and Northern Borno prior to and during the operations. The NAF also conducted a 7 day intensive bombardment of BHT camps, logistics bases and equipment during NAF Op FOREST STORM. This initial air bombardment by NAF degraded the insurgents which laid the foundation for the ultimate collapse of the BHTs hold in the Sambisa forest.
b. Support to OP RESCUE FINALE. Following the successful degradation of BHTs, the NAF in conjunction with NA commenced OP RESCUE FINALE from 1 Nov 16 into the stronghold of BHTs in Sambisa forest. The NAF maintained constant presence overhead own troops by providing CAP and ISR while the ground troops were advancing in OP RESCUE FINALE.
16. Conduct of Special Operations. The liaison missions conducted by the NAF during the period under review include the airlift of the Governor of Adamawa State from Mubi to Yola on 18 Apr 16. In addition, Mi-17 conducted psyops and info ops on 30 Apr 16 by dropping leaflets over BHT enclaves in Sambisa forest. Furthermore, one of the ‘Chibok girls’ was airlifted by the Super Puma aircraft from Damboa to Maiduguri on 18 May 16. Also, the A109-LUH conducted liaison mission to Damboa and Chibok to convey the parents of the ‘Chibok girls’ to Maiduguri with the Mi-24V providing armed escort. Prominent among the liaison missions during the period was the airlift of Chief of the Air Staff, Governor of Borno State and a number of VIPs/dignitaries from Maiduguri to/from Bama by the Mi-17 hel for the commissioning of the NAF Emergency Hospital at the Bama IDP Camp on 22 Aug 16. Notable special missions conducted in Oct 16, include the successful extraction of 21 Chibok Girls from 12 –13 Oct 16. The 2 days operation comprises 6 missions flown in 13 sorties using one each of 5 ac types; Alpha Jet, Be-350 KA, Super Puma, AW101 and A109 LUH. The mission presented some tactical challenges with respect to the lack of lighting in the operational area as well as the confined area designated as landing zone. Notwithstanding all these challenges, the Air Component was able to effectively plan and coordinate the operation to a successful outcome.
17. The NAF in its contribution to humanitarian operations in the NE established 2 NAF Emergency Hospitals. It has issued various directives for execution of humanitarian operations and continually reviewed its plans, particularly for management of over 2165,000 IDPs located in various centres. The NAF has also been undertaking wide range of humanitarian support missions in conjunction with NEMA, Commission for Refugee Migrants and IDPs as well as other relevant humanitarian agencies.
18. It is pertinent to emphasize that the humanitarian challenges within the IDP camps are enormous. Hence, the military and the Federal/State Governments effort alone would not be sufficient to handle the situation. Therefore, more advocacy need to be made to garner support of local and international NGOs. Most importantly, all Nigerians need to be encouraged to join this noble course of supporting IDPs in the NE.
TRAINING ACTIVITIES FOR YEAR 2016
19. Within budgetary constraints, the NAF training focus for 2016 was to address pertinent NAF human resource development and operational effectiveness issues to further consolidate and improve the training achievements of 2015. Emphasis was therefore placed on courses essential for the career progression of personnel and critical for the performance of assigned NAF function in tackling the present security challenges. In most cases, courses that cannot be obtained locally were sourced abroad.
20. The training activities which spread across all NAF trades with more emphasis on pilots, engineers, technician and regiment personnel were grouped into 2 broad categories namely: Local and Foreign. The NAF in 2016 trained 869 of its personnel overseas including 101 pilots and 357 engrs/technicians while 4,868 were trained locally including 131 pilots and 643 engrs/technicians. Breakdown of NAF training details for 2016 is at Annex A.
PROVISION OF BASIC INFRASTRUCTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES
21. The present NAF administration has also considered it a priority to provide basic infrastructural and educational facilities to seamlessly reposition the Service for enhanced operational effectiveness. To this end, a lot of these related activities have been undertaken in support of air operations especially in the current fight against insurgency in the NE which were mostly executed by the Logistics and Communications Branch of the Service. They essentially include provision of residential accommodation, essential services and infrastructure, operational and educational facilities.
PROVISION OF RESIDENTIAL ACCOMMODATION
22. In continuation of its efforts towards provision of decent residential accommodation, the NAF has constructed a number of residential accommodation for its personnel. During the period under review, 268 units of officers/airmen residential accommodation blocks have been constructed. These ranges from One-Bedroom, 2 and 3-Bedroom apartments for officers and airmen to cater for all categories of NAF personnel. A total of 2,418 personnel have been quartered in the new accommodation blocks. In addition 51 blocks of existing residential accommodation have been rehabilitated. The construction/rehabilitation of residential accommodation cuts across several NAF units. For instance, 2 blocks of 18 x 2-Bedroom SNCOs accommodation were constructed at NAF Base Abuja, one block of 12 x One-Bedroom single offrs quarters and 2 blocks of 10 x One-Bedroom accommodation were constructed at 105 CG Maiduguri. Similar accommodation were constructed in Yola, Port Harcourt, Benin, Kainji, Makurdi, Enugu, Bauchi, Lagos and Ipetu-Ijesha, Others are Kano, Jos and Abuja to mention a few. Additionally, several Officers' Messes and Airmen Clubs have been constructed or renovated to provide recreational and sporting facilities for personnel. Furthermore, worship centres were provided or upgraded where required to cater for personnel spiritual needs.
PROVISION OF BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE
23. In order to ensure the functionality of existing and newly constructed buildings, NAF has continued to provide potable water, electricity supply and access roads. In 2016, a total of 24 boreholes have been sunk in 14 locations. Additionally, 23 power generators ranging from 60KVA to 150KVA have been procured and installed at 33 NAF units. Furthermore, 7.5MVA and 5MVA transformers have been procured and installed in the bases in Abuja, Bauchi and Kano. These efforts have boosted electricity supply in these locations. On roads, a total of 22km roads have been constructed or resurfaced within Abuja and Kaduna NAF Bases.
PROVISION OF OPERATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
24. The NAF has continued to support air operations through provision and maintenance of operational facilities such as hangars, aprons and taxiways. For example, the Service has completely renovated the ac hangar in 531 ACMD Lagos and 131 Engr Gp Makurdi. Through the NAFRRRT, the apron at 103 STG Yola has been expanded to accommodate more aircraft while the 401 FTS Kaduna taxiway and runway have been resurfaced and extendedto provide better operational surface. Currently, installation of runway lights in Kaduna military airport is on-going. Also, the VIP Lounge at NAF FOB Daura has been modified while aircraft shelters were provided in Maiduguri.
CONSTRUCTION OF EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES
25. In its efforts at improving quality of education for children and dependants of personnel, NAF has continued to provide educational facilities across its units. Within the year 2016, a full fledged boarding Air Force Girls’ Comprehensive School (AFGCS) was established in Abuja and a day secondary school has been built in Shasha Lagos while a primary school was established in Air Force Base, Minna. Air Force Secondary School (AFSS) Kaduna is being converted into a full boarding school while the facilities in existing secondary and primary schools have been upgraded. For example, an assembly hall was constructed at Air Force Comprehensive School, Yola and several buildings have been renovated at Air Force Comprehensive School, Agbani, Enugu while furniture are provided at Air Force Comprehensive School, Kano. At present, the NAF has 22 secondary schools and 21 primary schools most of which were renovated in 2016. To boost the information technology base of students also, 12 secondary schools have been provided with digital interactive boards and computer laboratories.
26. In, Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), classroom blocks, lecture theatre, and departmental libraries have been constructed. Expanded infrastructures are equally being provided at NAF Institute of Safety, Kaduna. In addition, 5 blocks of recruits’ hostel/toilet blocks, a block of 12 x One-Bedroom instructors accommodation, recruits dining hall and a 30 x One-Bedroom airmen instructors accommodation have been constructed at the Ground Training Centre (GTC) Kaduna to provide a conducive environment for recruit training.
PROVISION OF INFRASTRUCTURE AT NEWLY ESTABLISHED NAF UNITS
27. With the need to rapidly expand the NAF to meet contemporary counter insurgency challenges in the NE, the Service has reviewed its Force Structure by establishing a new Command and units. Accordingly, the Service had to intervene in providing infrastructure at these newly established units. Some of these units are HQ SOC Bauchi, Forward Operation Base (FOB), Katsina, Quick Response Wing Daura, 201 Composite Group, Bauchi, and Quick Response Groups, Owerri and Gusau. Contracts for construction of Group HQ building, offrs and joint airmen Mess, residential accommodation for offrs and airmen as well as provision of water and electricity have been awarded for development of FOB Katsina and QR Wing Daura. The development of 201 CG is at advanced completion stage with nearly all the residential accommodation blocks, apron, fire bay parade ground, MT Yard, BFI facilities as well as provision of electricity, water and access road in place. Additionally, a 60-bedded reference hospital has been constructed and awaiting commissioning. Contracts for the extension of apron and construction of taxiways and access road to operational area have also been awarded.
SUMMARY OF NAF MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2016
28. The NAF has achieved a lot in the year 2016. The achievements covers improvement in platforms and operational capabilities, infrastructural development, training and professionalism. Some of the major achievements of the NAF from Jan-Dec 16 are as follows:
a. The induction of Super Mushshak ac (SMK) into the NAF inventory on 5 Dec 16 as a primary trainer ac.
b. Acquisition of additional 2 new DA-40 ac in Apr 16.
c. Reactivation of ATR-42 ac NAF 931 that was damaged about 2 years ago.
d. Acquisition of A-Jet ac NAF 478 in addition to the operable 7 A-Jet ac fleet in Jun 16.
e. Induction of 3x EC-135 helicopters handed over to the NAF by NNPC in Mar 16.
f. Acquisition of 2x Mi-35M helicopter with capabilities for night operations.
g. Successful degradation of the insurgents and liberation of Sambisa Forest.
h. Successful extraction of the Chibok Girls from SAMBISA.
i. Establishment NAF Emergency Hospital at the Bama IDP Camp.
j. Weaponization of 3 x A-Jet aircraft.
k. Upgrade of Mi-17 Helicopter for strike capability at night.
l. Weaponization of Mi-17 Helicopters.
m. Construction of Pintle Mounts for BMG 12.7mm guns on EC-135 Helicopter.
n. Training of 1,020 personnel overseas and 4,868 locally.
o. Training of 252 pilots and 357 Engrs/technicians overseas and 131 pilots and 643 Engr/technicians locally.
p. Construction of 268 units of officers/airmen residential accommodation.
q. Accommodation of 2,418 personnel and rehabilitation of 51 blocks of existing residential accommodation.
r. A total of 24 boreholes sunk in 14 locations across the country.
s. Procurement and installation of 23 power generators in 33 NAF units.
t. Construction and resurfacing of 14km roads within NAF Bases in Kaduna and Abuja.
u. Provision, maintenance and expansion of operational facilities such as hangars, aprons and taxiways in 531Aircraft Maintenance Depot, Lagos, 131 Engr Group, Makurdi, 103 Strike Group Yola, 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna and VIP Lounge at NAF Forward Operations Base, Daura, Katsina.
v. Establishment of Air Force Girls Comprehensive School, Abuja.
w. Construction of blocks of classrooms, lecture theatre and departmental libraries at AFIT.
x. Construction of 5 blocks of recruits hostel/toilet blocks, a block of 12 x One-bedroom instructors accommodation, recruits dining hall and a 30 x One-Bedroom airmen instructors accommodation at GTC.
y. Establishment of 5th NAF Command-Special Operations Command, Bauchi.
z. Establishment of 60- bedded NAF Reference Hospital, Bauchi.
aa. Provision of digital interactive boards and computers in 12 NAF secondary schools across the country.
ab. Donation of over 3,000 text books to IDPs in the North East.
29. In the year 2016, the NAF has participated in various operations in different parts of the country for the restoration of peace in the affected areas with a good measure of success. These operations include OP SAFE HAVEN, OP AWATSE, OP SHARAN DAJI and Op LAFIYA DOLE amongst other operations to defeat militants, cattle rustlers/bandits and BHTs. The invaluable contributions of the NAF are significant to the attainment of the overall AFN mission end state. AFN have presently recaptured all the lost territories in the NE including the total liberation of the Sambisa Forest from the insurgents. It is therefore imperative to boost the AFN capacity to effectively sustain ongoing and future operations.
30. To further enhance the morale of personnel, the NAF have continued to provide several units of residential and office accommodation as well as infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity in its main and forward operating bases. Provision of educational and medical facilities have also received unprecedented attention. It is however pertinent to note that the major achievements recorded in 2016 by the NAF would not have been possible without the unrelenting support of the President and C-in-C of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari CFR. The operations of air platforms is quite expensive. With the recession and serious decline in government revenue within the year, without the strong commitment of the C- in –C to a peaceful, stable and prosperous Nigeria, the NAF would not have received the much funding it had to operate satisfactory in the performance of its national duties. The vision of the CAS and practical leadership has also been a wielding influence to the NAF successes.