President Bola Tinubu has approved payment for the procurement of 12 attack helicopters for the Nigerian Army.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, made this known at the opening of the maiden Nigerian Army Aviation Seminar in Abuja Tuesday.
He said that the 12 MD 530F Cayuse attack helicopters would operationalise the Nigerian Army aviation unit, which was set up to improve ground troops’ agility, responsiveness and efficacy during operations.
The COAS added that it would also contribute to the overall operational success of joint and coalition troops.
Lagbaja explained that the army aviation was generally separate from a nation’s dedicated air force, but usually equipped with helicopters and light support fixed-wing aircraft.
He appreciated the president for buying into the aspiration of the Nigerian Army to have an equipped aviation unit, which would support ground troops as they focus on tactical and operational engagements.
According to him, the experiences of nations like the United States, Pakistan, Colombia, Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda are instructive in this area.
“The army aviation arms of these countries have shown effectiveness in countering contemporary security threats and providing vital support to ground forces.
“In view of the need to realize this, and in its bid to appropriately respond to contemporary and emerging security threats, the Nigerian Army resuscitated its aviation aspiration in 2014.
“I am happy to inform this gathering that the Nigerian Army is willing to learn from the army aviation journeys of the countries mentioned earlier.
“Our willingness to learn from them is to adapt their best practices to suit our unique operational environment and avoid their mistakes.
“I can proudly report that since 2014, the Nigerian Army has made commendable progress in training pilots, aircraft engineers, technicians and other ground support crew,” he said.
The COAS said that the army had submitted the aviation outfit to the Nigerian Air Force for proper mentoring.
On the seminar, Lagbaja said it was to discuss likely challenges the unit may face and proffer innovative solutions.
“Therefore, this seminar is a platform for us to deliberate on critical issues and share invaluable insights regarding the future of the Nigerian Army aviation, even before that future comes upon us.
“Ideas generated from our deliberations are expected to help strengthen the capabilities through capacity building, infrastructure development and guide further acquisition of cutting-edge platforms and technologies,” he added.
The Acting Coordinator, Nigerian Army Aviation, Brig.-Gen. Musa Alkali, said the unit would play pivotal role in bolstering ground operations and addressing the current security challenges confronting the nation.
Alkali said the reestablishment of army aviation was a decisive step towards enhancing operational reach and effectiveness in countering contemporary threats to Nigeria’s sovereignty and national security.
He added that the seminar was significant to the continuous efforts to operationalise the aviation unit.