Development of indigenous technology vital for operational successes – CAS

Stories by Benjamin Samson
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has harp on the need for the development of indigenous technology that can effectively support Nigerian Airforce (NAF) operations if the service must fulfil its mandate.

He said by so doing, that NAF can solve the challenges of aircraft maintenance and spare parts production.

Air Marshal Abubakar stated this Saturday at the year 2024 Research and Development Exhibition/ competition in Abuja.

According to him, “It is a common knowledge that the NAF utilizes sophisticated platforms, weapons and equipment to achieve its operational mandate.
“Major repairs and overhaul of these platforms, weapons and equipment are mostly carried out overseas by the Original Equipment Manufacturers at a very exorbitant cost.

“Moreover, most spares and equipment are non-off the shelf items, therefore there is no guarantee of obtaining them when required.

“Meanwhile, the enemy does not wait for us to be ready since our difficulty is to his advantage. The highlighted situation underscores the need to develop indigenous capacity for innovation and development of products that can effectively support NAF operations if we must fulfil our mandate. This is the critical place research and development occupies.”

The CAS said several aircraft have in the past been retired from service prematurely due to lack of technical capacity.

He said: “Let me take you through the memory lane of some of our experiences as a Service. The NAF acquired 18 Jaguar aircraft in 1984. By 1991 (7 years after), the entire fleet had been retired from service with some of the aircraft having as low as 150hrs as total flown hours.

“The same challenge trailed the operation of the MiG 21 aircraft. A total of 31 aircraft were acquired by 1975 and retired in the late 1980s with total flown hours ranging between 43hrs – 469hrs.

“This early retirement of the platforms indicates the inability of the NAF to sustain their operations due to lack of technical capacity.

“Similar challenges are also experienced in maintaining aircraft weapons and other critical equipment in the NAF.
“It is only by developing indigenous capacity to maintain our platforms by ourselves or produce them that we can overcome the challenges posed by the present restrictions. This again emphasizes the critical place of research and in NAF operations.”

He however, said the service has over the years priotise research and development which made NAF a pace setter among the services.

“Among the Services, the NAF has prided itself as a pace setter in the R&D. From the Tsai Gumi UAV to development of rocket launchers, heat shields, weaponization of Alpha Jet aircraft, retrofitting of U/S rockets, production of blank firing adapters for CAK-103 among others.

“These feats have in no mean way ensured that our platforms and equipment were serviceable and deployed at the various theatres of operation. In recognition of the vital place of R&D, I approved the installation of 8 assorted CNC machines at the AFRDC Osogbo.

“Furthermore the contract for the operationalization of Tsai Gumi UAV with UA Vision of Portugal was recently signed. The activation of the contract will see the resumption of partnership on the Tsai UAV project up to operational stage,” he said.

On the aspect of aircraft armament, he said the NAF is at the verge of signing technology transfer agreement with Messrs Zenith Prom of Serbia on technology transfer of 57mm rocket.
“These efforts are geared towards prioritizing R&D, leveraging cutting edge technology, strategic partnership and lessons learnt in line with my command philosophy, ” he added.