The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, yesterday disclosed that the Nigerian army might soon procure the South Africa (SA) made Rooivalk attack helicopters or any other deemed okay for the full take off of the newly introduced Army Aviation Corps.
General Buratai said this yesterday at the opening of the COAS First Quarter Conference 2016 that held at the Army Headquarters Command Officers Mess, Abuja.
The army chief, while reviewing the progress made under his command, especially since the last COAS Quarterly Conference, said the introduction of the NAAC was amongst the numerous innovations recently introduced to make the army a more professionally responsive body.
On the procurement of befitting helicopters to enable the full takeoff of the NAAC project, the COAS said the army had compiled a list of platforms from Russia, America and Chinese origins which include their simulator and UAVs. He however noted that emphasis was made on Russian-made Mi-17 due to its “ruggedness, operability and multi-role capability.”
“Different contractors submitted their proposals for supply which are still being considered. Recently the NA also considered the South Africa (SA) made Rooivalk attack helicopters after witnessing a demonstration in SA on the capability and employability”.
According to him the take off of the NAA is one project that is very dear to him.
“One project that is dear to me is the takeoff of the Nigeria Army Aviation”, Buratai said.
He explained that though the activities towards the building of the NAAC is still in progress, which he hoped would soon enable the army to acquire its own platform, the army chief added that so far all the needed manpower requirement for the take off of the NAAC, like the training of the pilots needed to man the aviation sector is ongoing.
According to him 10 officers (one captain and nine lieutenants) are still undergoing flying training course at the International Helicopter Flying School Enugu and are expected to round off their training by May 16, this year.
He added that 20 NA Aviation technicians who had recently completed their six months refresher course on aircraft maintenance at AFIT are currently attached to the 75 STG Yola for further on the job training.
He added that another helicopter operating company called Caverton proposed the supply of three H125 Helicopters and maintenance which the NA is also considering presently as an option.
General Buratai said, “The NA Aviation might eventually take off with any platform it can acquire as long as the pilot can perform the expected roles.”
On the ongoing counterinsurgency operation going on in the Northeast, the army chief said giving the robust operational strategy he introduced he takes the pride that “today the callous terror group that brought wanton destruction and untold hardship to our lands has been significantly decimated with all of you (officers and men) playing pivotal roles”.
“Troops have continued to fight the insurgency with reinvigorated spirit and in a very professional manner”.