The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, says he is pleased with the successes recorded by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole in its renewed offensive against Boko Haram Terrorists/Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) elements in the North East of the Country.
The Air Chief gave the commendation on Saturday, July 4th, 2020, while addressing personnel of the Air Task Force, at the end of his 3-day operational visit to Maiduguri to assess the conduct of the counter-insurgency operation.
He however urged the troops to sustain the onslaught in order to ensure total defeat of the terrorists.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar, while conveying the appreciation of the entire NAF family to the ATF for its relentless efforts in the fight against insurgency, remarked that Operations Long Reach I and II had been very fruitful in further destabilizing the BHTs’ new leadership and curtailing their freedom of action within the Theatre.
He noted that this was the hallmark of successful air interdiction missions – “to destroy the enemies’ eggs in their nests before they can be brought to bear against friendly forces or innocent civilians”.
According to him, “we are satisfied, we are very excited that you are making substantial progress in ensuring that the Boko Haram Terrorists are eliminated in the North East, so that our people can go back to their farms and live their normal lives”.
The CAS highlighted that the NAF’s ability to operate simultaneously in multiple Theatres of Operation, including the North East, North West and North Central, amongst others, were only made possible because of the Federal Government’s support to the Service, which had enabled it to acquire 22 brand new aircraft.
He noted that this capability would be further boosted when the 16 other aircraft being expected; 12 Super Tucano attack aircraft, 3 JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter jets and an additional Mi-171E helicopter; are delivered.
The CAS also disclosed that selected air and ground crews for the JF-17 Thunder had already started their training in Pakistan, while those nominated for the Super Tucano would soon commence their training.
Air Marshal Abubakar equally revealed that the NAF’s operational capability had also been enhanced because it had been able to reactivate about 25 erstwhile grounded aircraft within the past 5 years.
He highlighted that one of these was the ATR-42 Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft (NAF 930), which had just returned to Nigeria after completing Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) in Germany.
According to him, the aircraft would soon be redeployed to the North East to further enhance the ATF’s intelligence gathering capabilities.
Air Marshal Abubakar therefore expressed appreciation to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the National Assembly for their support to the NAF towards meeting its air power goals.
He equally thanked the Governments and people of the frontline States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa for their continued support to the Service.