The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has graduated another 20 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as part of its capacity-building drive.
Since the start of its counter-insurgency efforts in 2011, Nigeria has grown to appreciate the importance of having an unmanned aerial vehicle capability.
During the winging ceremony at NAF Headquarters, held earlier this week, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Amao expressed his delight at the winging of UAV pilots, stating that unlike manned aircraft, drones offer relatively lower costs of procurement, operation, and maintenance as well as a capability to undertake high risk operations.
“All these efforts at pilots training are aimed at maintaining combat readiness at significantly higher levels to counter both domestic and foreign threats to the nation’s security and wellbeing of our people.”
Apparently, 21 officers will soon resume UAV training at the 401 Flight Training School, Kaduna, which will last till March 2022, and according to the CAS, the NAF has developed a formal capacity to train UAV pilots from ab-initio to tactical flying.
The Chief of Training and Operations (CTOP), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) James Gwani, disclosed that of the 25 newly winged pilots, 17 had completed the UAV Course 3 while 3 completed the CH-3A UAV Operational Conversion Course locally at 401 Flying Training School (FTS), Kaduna.
For UAV training, CTOP Awani further stated that the course was divided into three phases; ground academics, UAV initial flying and basic UAV training phase and entailed each officer flying the minimum requirement of an average of 45 hours comprising 10 hours actual and 35 hours simulator flight hours at the initial flying phase.
“The Basic UAV training phase involved 40 hours internal UAV pilot training on UAV mission planning and execution, emergency procedures, position reporting as well as external and internal pilot coordination amongst others”, he said.
Nigeria’s first in-country trained UAV pilots completed training after clocking nearly 100 flying hours on the CH-3A in 2018. Basic UAV trainings are carried out using the Chinese-made Mugin commercial UAVs at the 401st Flying Training School based in Kaduna.
Sinceast year, Nigeria has acquired and ordered Adcom Systems Yabhon Flash-20 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the United Arab Emirates, Aerosonde fixed wing AAI VTOL UAV, and eight Chinese-made unmanned combat aerial vehicles.