As part of activities marking the 54th Nigerian Airforce Day, the force on Friday in Kaduna commissioned 216 officers and airmen as certified engineers and airmen specialty.
Speaking at the Winging, Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said since assumption of office, his administration had accorded high priority to the development of of aircraft and armament engineering infrastructure and manpower development.
According to him, “Today, we are opening a new chapter in the history of NAF Aircraft and Armament Engineering Specialties with the official launching of the aircraft engineering and armament wing as a mark of recognition for personnel in the different categories.
“Personnel are hereby authorized to wear appropriate wings for their category as part of the approved dress code for NAF aircraft maintenance and armament engineers.”
He noted that the central focus of his effort had been human capacity development, which is geared to produce knowledgeable and skilled manpower that can effectively respond to today’s volatile, complex and ambiguous security environment.
He explained, “Technology plays an important role in the planning and conduct of modern military operation and the ability to shape the battle space goes beyond the acquisition of military hardware.
“It is therefore incumbent on us to strive for self-reliance by developing appropriate technology required to enhance our operational effectiveness.
“To realise this lofty objective, the NAF in the last three years has trained over 288 officers and airmen/women overseas in different fields of aircraft and armament engineering. We have also spared no effort in ensuring that NAF engineering/armament units are equipped to carryout their assigned roles.
“The machine tools workshops at the engineering depots in Lagos and Makurdi were recently reactivated and upgraded to add value to own research and development efforts geared towards fabrication of some mechanical aircraft parts locally.
“We have also established the Central Avionics Overhaul and Calibration Centre here in Kaduna to domesticate repairs/overhaul and calibration of avionics equipment and instruments on NAF aircraft types.
“The AFIT Bill recently passed by the National Assembly and assented to by Mr President will grant the institution autonomy, to reduce its reliance on the NAF with regards to funding and enable it partake in international collaboration, especially in R&D with other world renown institutions such as the UNDP and European Union.”
In his welcome address, Chief of Aircraft Engineering, Air Vice Marshal Abdulganiyu Olabisi, said the event was a clear demonstration of the Chief of the Air Staff commitment to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
He explained, “Many Air forces in various parts of the world have devised unique ways of identifying their aircraft engineers, adding that in countries like Pakistan and India among others, aircraft engineers are identified by the type of insignias they wear.
“Such insignias are categorized according to defined skill level to accord due recognition to professional competence and accomplishment. The overarching objective of this initiative is to encourage our personnel to aspire to the pinnacle of Aircraft Engineering specialty through relentless pursuit of professional excellence.”
“As we are all aware, it has not been the practice in the Nigerian Air Force for aircraft and armament engineers to wear any form of insignia except for flight engineers. This situation does not confer recognition on deserving professionals and has been observed to constitute a hindrance to career planning and productivity of NAF aircraft and armament engineering personnel,” he observed.
Air Vice Marshal Abdulganiyu, said, in order to enhance productivity and career progression, the Chief of Air Staff in line with this administration’s policy of rewarding excellence convened a board of officers to come up with modalities for categorization of NAF aircraft and armament personnel based on knowledge and skill.
He noted, “The Board comprising seasoned serving and retired senior
officers have since completed the assignment and grouped aircraft and armament personnel into 3 categories as: Basic Intermediate and Senior.
“The Board recommended 42 personnel for the Senior category. These personnel are to wear half wing with red laurels while the 66 others in the Intermediate category are to wear half wing with blue laurels.
“In the Basic category we have 108 personnel who are to wear half wing with no laurels. At the moment, we have a total of 216 personnel who are qualified to wear aircraft and armament engineering wings. Commissioned officers are to wear golden half wing while non-commissioned officers are to wear silver half wing. The categorization of NAF engineering and armament personnel is to be reviewed
“On this note, I want to congratulate all of us for being part of history as we will witness the winging of selected engineering and armament personnel at this special occasion to officially launch the wearing of wings by engineering and armament personnel in the Nigerian Air
“Force Like several other initiatives under the visionary leadership of Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar to reposition the Nigerian Air Force for improved service delivery it is our conviction that this singular gesture of winging NAF aircraft and armament personnel will reinvigorate the pursuit excellence which is a core valuable of the Nigerian Airforce.”