The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has postponed the ceremony to induct two newly acquired Agusta power helicopters, procured for the insurgency war in the North east.
The aircraft were initially scheduled for induction on 28 January by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola,NAF Director of Public Relations and Information who announced this in a statement on Friday in Abuja, said a new date for the event would be announced in due course.
” The induction ceremony has been postponed. A new date for the event will be announced in due course,” he said.
NAF took delivery of two new Augusta 109 Westland Attack helicopters into combat operations on 15 January. This increases to four the Augusta 109 attack helicopters procured by the federal government .
Air Commodore Daramola said last week the Augusta helicopters, along with associated equipment and spares, arrived Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja on board a Boeing 737-400 Cargolux Airline aircraft from Malpensa International Airport in Italy on Jan. 15.
He said they were received by a NAF Team, led by Air Commodore Halim Adebowale, as well as the Country Representative of Leonardo Helicopters, manufacturers of the aircraft.
Daramola said that NAF engineers and technicians, in collaboration with a Team from Leonardo, have commenced assembly of the helicopters preparatory to their induction into service.
He recalled that the NAF had earlier received the first batch of 2 new Agusta 109 Power Helicopters that were inducted into the Service on April 29 2019 during the 55th NAF Day Celebration in Abuja.
” The Service, within the last 5 years, has taken delivery of 21 brand new aircraft, including 10 Super Mushshak, 5 Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships, 2 Bell 412 Helicopters and 4 Agusta 109 Power Helicopters.
” Beside these, 15 additional aircraft have been ordered by the Federal Government, which include 12 Super Tucano attack aircraft and 3 JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft, in addition, the Service also took over 11 aircraft from other MDAs.
” These include three EC-135 helicopters and 3 Dauphin helicopters from NNPC, 3 Donier 228 aircraft and 2 Agusta 101 from the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF); making an unprecedented total of 47 aircraft that have either been inducted into the NAF or ordered for the Service since 2015.
” In the same vein, over 20 previously grounded aircraft have been reactivated within the past 5 years,” he said
Daramola said after induction, the two new helicopters would be deployed to theatres of operation across the country to reinforce NAF capability in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminality.