The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has winged another combat pilot, Flying Officer Salihu Usman, in Abuja.
This brings to 91 the number of winged pilots in three years.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, made this known in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said that Usman recently completed his Basic Fighter Introduction Course (BFIC) in the U.S.
He added that: “The Chief of the Air Staff’s quest to re-professionalise the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) through capacity building initiatives have received a further boost with the winging of another young NAF combat pilot, Flying Officer Salihu Usman.
“This is besides the 67 NAF officers who are currently undergoing flying training in various flying institutions both within and outside the country.
“It is, therefore, expected that by this time next year, the total number of new pilots would reach an unprecedented 158 in just 4 years.
“More remarkably, among the 67 student pilots, is the first female NAF student fighter pilot, who is currently undergoing Specialised Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) in the USA.
”Another female student pilot is undergoing helicopter training in South Africa to become the first female helicopter pilot in the NAF,” Daramola said.
He said that the newly winged pilot was admitted into the NDA in August 2010 as a member of 62nd Regular Combatant Course, where he obtained a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
“As the best Air Force Cadet in his course, he was nominated for IOT Course, at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell UK after which he was commissioned into the NAF as a Pilot Officer.
“Thereafter, Flying Officer Usman was nominated for the SUPT where he earned the U.S. Air Force Silver Wing.
“Upon successful completion of the SUPT Course with outstanding performance, the USAF found him worthy of recommendation for the Basic Fighter Introduction Course (BFIC).
“He has a total of 265 flying hours on the Cessna 172, T-6A and T-38C aircraft types,” Daramola said.
He said that Abubakar had expressed delight to receive the pilot back from the U.S. and congratulated him for his outstanding performances during the SUPT and BFIC.
The CAS noted that “the young pilot was returning to the country at a time when the NAF, with the kind support of the Federal Government was about to receive additional combat platforms in the shape of the A-29 Super Tucano and JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Fighter.”
He said the CAS noted that “these new platforms would improve NAF’s ability to more effectively respond to national security imperatives.”