NIGERIAN AIR FORCE
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NIGERIAN AIR FORCE
To ensure the integrity of the airspace by gaining and maintaining control of the air while retaining a credible capacity to fulfill other airpower tasks demanded by national defence and security imperatives.
“To consolidate the transformation of the Nigerian Air Force by employing innovative approaches, with a focus on joint capabilities and consideration for credible international partnerships.”
KEY DRIVERS OF CAS VISION
• Continuation of Fleet, Logistics and Infrastructural Renewal.
• Renewed Emphasis on Operational Doctrines.
• Effective & Efficient Training and Capacity Development.
• Personnel Motivation for Excellence.
• Advocacy for Credible Partnerships.
The idea of establishing an air force for Nigeria was first mooted in 1961 following the nation's participation in peace-keeping operations in Congo and Tanganyika (now Tanzania). During these peace-keeping operations, foreign air forces aircraft were employed to airlift the Nigerian Army Regiment to and from the theatres of operation. The Nigerian Government at the time, no doubt, recognized the urgent need to establish an air force actively supported by modern facilities to provide full complement of forces to enhance the nation's military posture. Early in 1962, the Government agreed in principle that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) be established.
The Nigerian Parliament, therefore, approved the establishment of the NAF and recruitment of cadets commenced in June 1962. Consequently, the NAF was officially established by a statutory Act of Parliament in April 1964 to serve four main purposes namely:
a. To achieve a full complement of the military defence system of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria both in the air and on the ground.
b. To ensure a fast versatile mobility of the Armed Forces.
c. To provide close support for the ground-based and sea borne forces in all phases of
operations and to ensure the territorial integrity of a united Nigeria.
d. To give the country the deserved prestige that is invaluable in international matters.
It was in 1962 that the drive for the required manpower for the planned air force started. Simultaneous with this development, Government was in dialogue with some friendly nations on the possibility of training Nigerian Air Force personnel in various specialist fields.
The first batch of 10 cadets was enlisted in 1962 to undergo training with the Ethiopian Air Force. The second set of 16 cadets was enlisted in February 1963 to undergo training with the Royal Canadian Air Force while six cadets were sent to the Indian Air Force. The stage was thus set for the training of its personnel in the country. Consequently, several countries were approached but the lot fell on the German Air Force to provide technical assistance for the local training of NAF personnel and this materialized in 1963.
While the NAF was still at its infancy as a fighting force, the laudable plans made by the German Air Force Assistance Group were prematurely put to test barely three years after its establishment. The inexperienced Air Force assumed the role of a well established Air Force in order to prosecute the Nigerian civil war in close collaboration with sister Services. At this stage of its existence, the NAF was only equipped with a few aircraft. As the war progressed, some fighter aircraft such as MIG 15 and 17 were acquired to help bring the war to a speedy end.
The Nigerian Civil War came to an end in 1970 and there was the need to re-organize the Nigerian Air Force and up-grade its equipment. In order to strengthen itself, the NAF between 1981 and 1990 acquired additional aircraft types of advanced technology. With the acquisition of new weapon platforms, there arose the need to train personnel to man and maintain the new aircraft types. This led to the NAF re-organising its training aspects in all NAF trade specialties.
Following the expansion of the NAF over time and the need to enforce all international laws and conventions relating to space activities in the Nigerian airspace, the Federal Government promulgated Decree 105 (Armed Forces Amendment Decree) of 23rd August 1994 which provided additional roles for the NAF. These additional roles include:
a. Enforcing and assisting in coordinating the enforcement of international law, conventions, practices and customs ascribed and acceded to by Nigeria relating to aerial or space activities in the Nigerian airspace.
b. Coordinating and enforcing all national and international air laws acceded or ascribed to by Nigeria and
c. De-lineating, demarcating and coordinating all aerial surveys and security zones of the Nigerian airspace.
MAIN WEAPON PLATFORMS
To achieve the objectives for which the NAF was set up, the Federal Government has over the years acquired various weapons systems to enable the NAF to effectively perform its roles. There are therefore, various aircraft types currently in operation in the NAF performing different roles. The most recent platforms added to the NAF inventory by the Federal Government are F-7Ni, ATR-42 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and the Agusta Helicopter.