The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), on Tuesday in Abuja, winged the first female combat pilot officer, and five others who have completed the Tactical Flying Training Course on the Alpha Jet aircraft, for effective and efficient service delivery.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, while winging the pilots, at the combined ceremony of Basic Flying Course 19 Batch A/ Tactical Fighter Course 24 Batch B, at NAF Headquarters, said their journey had just begun.
Abubakar said the ceremony was one in the series of remarkable strides of NAF towards capacity building to reposition the service into a highly professional and disciplined force that would respond swiftly to Nigeria’s security imperatives.
“Today, we have witnessed the decoration of four pilots with their basic pilot wings on completion of their Basic Flying Course.
“And the award of Combat Rating to operational pilots who have completed the Tactical Flying Course on the Alpha Jet aircraft.
“As you are aware, human capacity development is one of the key drivers of the service vision and has indeed received much attention.
“This is evident in the number of personnel that have been trained in various courses, both locally and overseas. Indeed, today’s graduation brings the total number of new pilots winged since 2015 to 118,” he said.
The CAS noted that the pilots had continued to add value to the efforts of the service in dealing with security challenges in the North-East, North-West and other parts of the country headlong.
He also noted that a good number of NAF officers were currently undergoing various pilot training courses overseas, while the indigenous training institutions continued to play a crucial role toward the attainment of capacity building initiatives.
“It is, therefore, pleasing to note that 403 Flying Training School, Kano and 407 Air Combat Training Group, Kainji where the graduands were trained have continued to set the pace in the provision of high-quality fighter pilot training,” Abubakar said.
He reminded them that they could not afford to rest on their oars at this time, adding that they should be aware that the feat they had achieved came with responsibility and as such, much would be expected.
“I, therefore, urge you to continue to give your best to the service and the nation. NAF cannot be strong and effective without our collective contributions no matter how modest they may be.
“You must be confident, courageous and patriotic in the discharge of your duties in the theatre of operations that you may be deployed to.
“For the operational pilots, I know the past 18 months have been particularly tedious with series of training sorties and several tactical manoeuvres executed to the high standards expected of NAF fighter pilots.
“All these were aimed at giving you the requisite skills necessary to prepare you for the tasks ahead.
“I must emphasize, now that you have earned your combat rating, you will be required to work harder and fly with more precision to meet up with the expectations of Nigerians in the various operational theatres,“ Abubakar said.
He urged them to work closely and collaboratively with other security agencies to actualise the service joint strategy of dealing with the enemies of the country.
The first female combat pilot, Kafayat Sanni, promised to discharge her responsibilities diligently, while bearing in mind the fact that the country was facing a series of security challenges.
Sanni acknowledged the fact that the training was tough as always, but added that by paying the needed attention to the instructor pilot, it was a success story at the end.