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Nigeria, Czech Air Force deepen partnership

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By Abraham Adekunle

Partnership with the air force has positively impacted NAF capabilities.

Hassan Abubakar, Nigerian Chief of Air Staff (CAS), has said that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is poised to strengthen its strategic partnership with the Czech Air Force in the areas of technological transfer, capacity building as well as research and development. Air Marshal Abubakar stated this when he met with Petr Cepelka, the commander of the Czech Air Force, at the Future Air Force 2023 Conference in Prague, Czech Republic. According to Abubakar, the partnership will enhance the proficiency of NAF maintenance crew to be able to undertake some major maintenance works in-country, reduce aircraft downtime, and improve air operations.

Also, the air marshal sought the cooperation and collaboration of the Czech Air Force in the areas of counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and pilot training. He said that NAF had received more support from the Czech Air Force since the initial purchase of the L-39 aircraft in 1986. He added that the NAF had continued to maintain an active relationship with the Czech Air Force. According to him, NAF has collaborated with the Czech Air Force in the past on pilot training on L-39Z aircraft simulators, altitude chamber and spatial disorientation training for several NAF pilots across different platforms, which have positively impacted NAF fighting capabilities.

Air power capabilities critical to dynamic security structure.

At the conference, Abubakar delivered a paper titled “Pilot training in the Nigerian Air Force – an assessment.” He said that the development and employment of air power capabilities were increasingly becoming critical to the dynamic security environment where threats originated from both state and non-state actors. He stated that the constitutional role of the NAF in tackling Nigerian security challenges, in collaboration with other security services, demanded constant generation, delivery and sustenance of a diverse range of credible air power capabilities as well as a vastly agile and resilient air force.

This was predicated on the crucial need for the NAF to have the necessary human capacity for mission accomplishment. So, there was a need to ensure that the NAF trained its pilots to the highest professional standards for effective air power delivery. Abubakar also held a meeting with officials of Aero Vodochody, who were the original equipment manufacturers of the NAF L-39Z aircraft. Issues related to scheduling and timing of overhaul and avionics upgrade of 3 NAF L-39Z among others were discussed at this meeting.

Czech CAS assures Nigeria of support from the military.

Responding, the Czech chief of air staff thanked Abubakar for sustaining the long history of mutual relationship that had existed between the two air forces. Cepelka assured him of the Czech Air Force support in the areas of aircraft acquisition, maintenance, unmanned aerial vehicle operations and training of NAF special forces. Meanwhile, in the fight against insecurity and non-state actors, troops of 181 Amphibious Battalion of the Nigerian Army recently uncovered 12 active illegal refining sites in Owahwa Creek in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta state.

In a statement obtained by the media, 60 crude oil cooking ovens, 14 reservoirs, 6 wooden boats laden with stolen crude, and 470 sacks of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) were found in the camps. According to the Nigerian Army, the soldiers achieved the clampdown in collaboration with the personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), which has continued to crack down on saboteurs of Nigeria oil sector in Southern Nigeria.

Army asks the public to report suspected activities.

Relatedly, the same troops also intercepted a vehicle conveying 25 polythene bags of suspected illegally refined AGO in Ogbodu Community in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State. Some interceptions and arrests were also made in similar operations. On September 2, 2023, troops of 3 Battalion, intercepted two wooden boats ladened with stolen crude in Tsekelewu, Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State. The troops arrested two suspects in connection with the crime. Finally, the Nigerian Army implored members of the public to report any suspected act of sabotage or criminality to security agencies to enhance ongoing operations to curb economic sabotage in the country.

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