The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commissioned another Mi-35P helicopter gunship, NAF 530, on April 17 following successful in-country reactivation, the service announced.
The commissioning ceremony was held at the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG), Port Harcourt and was attended by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
The event also featured the formal commissioning of a Tailoring Workshop constructed by NAF Investment Limited (NAFIL), which, since it began operation on 3 April 2020, has already produced close to 40,000 face masks and 450 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to assist in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his remarks at the commissioning ceremony, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said he was delighted to witness the formal re-induction into service of NAF 530, noting that the successful in-country reactivation was an indication that the NAF has made significant progress in building its in-house aircraft maintenance capacity. He observed that, in the past, most of such major maintenance activities were done abroad, at considerably higher cost.
The commissioning brings to two the number of Mi-35P helicopter gunships reactivated locally by the current NAF administration and comes barely a month after the successful in-country reactivation of an Alpha Jet light attack aircraft, NAF 455, at the 407 Air Combat Training Group, Kainji, which is already deployed to the frontlines.
The first Nigerian Air Force Mi-35P helicopter to be reactivated in-country NAF 531, is serving the Air Force since its deployment in May 2018. The second one was reactivated after being unserviceable since June 2016.
The NAF had conducted in-country reactivation/Periodic Depot Maintenance on a number of aircraft types in its inventory including the C-130H Hercules transport aircraft in Lagos, the Alpha Jets in Kainji as well as the L-39ZA light attack aircraft in Kano. A total of 23 unserviceable aircraft had been restored to flyable conditions.
Nigerian Air Force recently acquired 22 brand new platforms and is also expecting 16 additional brand new aircraft. These included a second Mi-171E helicopter as well as three JF-17 multi-role aircraft from Pakistan and 12 A-29 Super Tucano from the USA.