A new chapter began in the history of the Nigerian Air Force as the Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, yesterday commissioned a commercial aircraft purchased by its personnel.
Speaking at the occasion, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, assured Nigerians of safety in Nigerian air space, saying that their aircraft and personnel were in perfect shape as he expressed satisfaction with the project.
At the launching of a United Airline Boeing 737-500, Badeh said the newly acquired aircraft was under a joint partnership between the Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services of the Nigerian Air Force Holding Company (NAFHC) and Solicom Engineering Nigeria Limited, a product of Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
He said, “I am so glad with this aircraft; every Air Force personnel contributed to it and it is the first of the series of aircraft that the force plans for carrying troops.” He said its purchase would not deny the patronage of C-130 and others in its hanger.
Earlier in her speech, the Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, who was represented by the new Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Aliyu Ismaila Numa, said that with the coming on board of the Boeing 737-500 series, it was hoped that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) would build its airlift very soon since it has the capability to do so.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Group Managing Director, NAFHC, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Kure, said the aircraft would commence operations with the initial client base of mainly Armed Forces, Police and other para-military force.
He also said that the aircraft would be available for charter, adding that this will contribute towards personnel motivation since they will be airlifted to reduce fare.
In his remark, the managing director, Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited (AETSL), Air Vice Marshal Alkali Muhammed Mamu, said the AETSL is solely owned by the officers and men of the NAF.