The Chief of the Air Staff’s quest to re-professionalise the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) through capacity building initiatives has received a further boost with the winging of another young NAF combat pilot, Flying Officer Salihu Ibrahim Usman, who recently completed his Basic Fighter Introduction Course in the United States of America (USA).
The investiture, which took place today, 16 October 2018, at the Chief of the Air Staff’s (CAS) Conference Room, Headquarters (HQ) NAF, has brought to 91 the total number of pilots winged within the past 3 years. This is besides the 67 NAF officers who are currently undergoing flying training in various flying institutions both within and outside the country. It is therefore expected that by this time next year, the total number of new pilots would reach an unprecedented 158 in just 4 years.
More remarkably, among the 67 student pilots, is the first female NAF student fighter pilot, who is currently undergoing Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) in the USA, as well as another female student pilot, who is undergoing helicopter training in South Africa to become the first female helicopter pilot in the NAF.
While speaking during the winging ceremony, the CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, expressed delight to receive the pilot back from the USA and congratulated him for his outstanding performances during the SUPT and Basic Fighter Introduction Courses. He stated that the officer’s exceptional results on the various courses came as no surprise given his pedigree in emerging best graduating NAF Cadet in his course at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and also performing extremely well during the Initial Officer Training (IOT) Course at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell United Kingdom (UK). He noted that these were, no doubt, evidences of the officer’s hard work, dedication and determination to succeed.
While urging the officer to sustain this level of commitment to duty, the CAS remarked that the young pilot was returning to the country at a time when the NAF, with the kind support of the Federal Government, was about to receive additional combat platforms in the shape of the A-29 Super Tucano and JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Fighter. He remarked that these new platforms would improve NAF’s ability to more effectively respond to national security imperatives.