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Following Recent Crashes, Nigerian Air Force Says Planes in Good Health

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has stated that its aircraft were in good health. NAF said the planes involved in recent crashes were purchased brand new in 2015. It said

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has stated that its aircraft were in good health.

NAF said the planes involved in recent crashes were purchased brand new in 2015.

It said most of the aircraft in the arsenal of the force were in good health, and adequately maintained.

There have been a barrage of criticisms over the frequent crashes involving the NAF planes.

Three aircraft belonging to NAF were involved in fatal crashes in Abuja, Borno and the latest one that claimed the life of the army chief, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru in Kaduna.

A total of 21 personnel of the air force and army were killed in the three crashes that occurred in 2021.

The air force just last week inducted three newly procured JF-17 thunder aircraft into its inventory as part of activities to mark its 57th anniversary celebration at the NAF Base, Makurdi, Benue State and had long expected 12 Super Tucano fighter jets from the United State which full delivery is due by 2022.

However, the bashing of the air force is unceasing.

There were also claims that of the four major Beechcraft planes in the force, notably, NAF 201, NAF 202, NAF 203 and NAF 204, two aircraft – NAF 201and NAF 203 had crashed in Abuja and Kaduna, remaining NAF 202 and NAF 204.

There have also been trending calls on social media for the air force for to ground the remaining two.

But in an interview with THISDAY, the Air Force Spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, debunked such claims, saying the aircraft were brand new ones.

He insisted that air force aircraft, especially Beechcraft, the brand that crashed were not outdated.

“You can even debunk that by going to the internet. Beechcraft is an American aircraft.

“They were purchased brand new. The aircraft are new considering some other aircraft. The age of an aircraft does not determine its serviceability,” he said.

He called for continued support for the air force.

“The air force belongs to Nigerians and we need their support,” he added.

Speaking on the latest incident, he said: “It is an unfortunate situation. The chief of air staff is not happy that air crashes happened under him.

“The weather was not good that evening and the plane had almost landed but there was strong wind,” he said.

He said the air force was “clear on serviceability and competence of the pilot. He was one of the best. He was trained in US and UK. He had clocked nearly 3,000 hours.

“The late chief of army staff and chief of the air staff were course mates. People were excited that two of them were course mates and they were working together in line with the joint operations policy of the military. They were friends for more than 40 years”, he said.

Meanwhile, a security expert, who retired on the equivalent rank of major general, has however raised the alarm over the obsoleteness of the military arsenal.

The security analyst, who retired at the equivalent rank of Maj. Gen. said apart from the use of obsolete equipment, there was anti-intellectualism in the armed forces.

“The military is overstretched with third generation equipment (equipment manufactured during the cold war). Even though many senior military officers, like the civilian politicians still live in denial.

“For example, the Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet is an obsolete platform; the production line in Germany has been closed. There are no spares for the few of the aircraft we still have in our inventory”, he added.

The expert, who spoke to THISDAY anonymously, said “the same with Army’s Steyr Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) manufactured in Austria in the 70s and 80s. The production line closed in mid 90s”.

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

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