Nigerian Air Force

Posted by on 10/27/2002 2:49:08 PM | Views: 73 |

Nigerian Air Force

In 1958, the same year as the Navy came into existence, calls were made in the Federal legislature for the establishment of an Air force for the country to make it self reliant in defence matters. There was vehement argument in the legislature against the continued overdependence on Britain for the defence of the nation's waters and airspace. By 1964, this considerable foresight paid off when the law establishing the Nigerian Airforce became functional. The embryonic force was manned by officers seconded from the Nigerian army, mainly with the assistance of a Technical Assistance Group (TAG) from the West German Airforce Luftwaffe. In preparation for the establishment of the Airforce, two batches of cadets for pilot training were sent to Ethiopia in 1962 and to Canada, India, West Germany and USA in 1963. Other professionals like doctors, engineers and technicians, were recruited from the nation's universities and elsewhere.

The command of the NAF base was given to the Germans who organised it into a Headquarters located in Lagos, a Tactical and Training Wing, a Flying Training Squadron as well as a Technical and Supply Squadron. "The depar ture of the German team in 1966 compelled the government to rapidly indigenise the command of the Airforce. Special courses were organised tor the cadets by the army, after which they were quick ly commissioned to man positions vacated by the departing Germans. The Airforce was tasked, among other things, to:

a. Defend the Federal Republic by air;

b. Train personnel in the air as welias on the ground;

c. Raise and maintain operational units; and

d. Establish and maintain an Airforce reserve of officers and men.

With these tasks in focus, the NAF began its training of personnel in 1968 with three different types of aircraft. These were the Piaggio, the D027 and the Alluettee helicopters. It was with these same slowmoving trainer aircraft that the NAFhad its baptism of fire in the Nigerian Civil war.

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