What Nigeria, Jordan ties mean for NAF
Indeed, more tangible benefits are in the offing as NAF expects to receive four Super Puma helicopters and two spare engines for tactical airlift of troops in the battle against insurgency and similar operational exigencies
The vista for international collaboration to defeat insurgency and promote peace was enhanced recently with the visit of the Commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, RJAF, Major General Yousef Al-Hnaity, to Nigeria. The Jordanian air chief was the guest of Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on a week-long working visit aimed at further exploring areas of possible collaboration between the RJAF and the Nigerian Air Force, NAF.
Clearly, the cooperation between the two countries presents a win-win situation; the manifestation of Air Marshal Abubakar’s policy thrust of positive advocacy, openness and international linkage in the fight against global terror and promotion of international harmony.
Last August, Air Marshal Abubakar was in Jordan to initiate the cooperation between the RJAF and the NAF. The visit by the CAS was fruitful, leading to a promise by Jordan to provide necessary military assistance and training to Nigeria.
The coming of his Jordanian counterpart is therefore a step to deepen the collaboration between the two countries experiencing similar security challenges.
The visit is also expected to facilitate the sharing of experiences that would positively impact on the global efforts to deal with terrorism.
Specifically, Major General Yousef Al-Hnaity identified cooperating with NAF in the area of capacity building for NAF pilots and aircraft engineers, who could train with their Jordanian colleagues.
Also on the cards is the training of pilots, technicians and engineers on aircraft spares inventory management.
Indeed, more tangible benefits are in the offing as NAF expects to receive four Super Puma helicopters and two spare engines for tactical airlift of troops in the battle against insurgency and similar operational exigencies.
Recall that Jordan had offered 200 Armoured Vehicles to President Muhammadu Buhari when he met with the King of Jordan, Abdullah II in New York last month.
While in Nigeria, the Jordan air chief also met with the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin and the CAS, in Abuja.
In addition, he visited NAF bases in Kaduna and Lagos and also interacted with NAF frontline pilots in Maiduguri and Yola.
Earlier, at the parley with Air Marshal Sadique and the Air Force hierarchy at the NAF headquarters, Abuja, Major General Al-Hnaity pledged the readiness of the RJAF to collaborate with the NAF in the fight against terrorism, militancy and other forms of violent extremism.
He noted that the world is now fighting a new brand of warfare that requires international collaboration.
Accompanied by a delegation of officers from RJAF, General Al-Hnaity said that “Air Power” was the way to go, if the country must contain the war against terrorism.
He promised that RJAF would provide the NAF with required logistics, aircraft spare parts as well as training of pilots and engineers.
Air Marshal Abubakar said that the 21st Century conflict was characterised by armed fight against non-state actors. He also reiterated that no country could solely defeat terrorism, no matter how powerful.
Recent NAF advocacy visits to countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Jordan were aimed at building strong partnerships with friendly nations.
The CAS emphasized the commitment of NAF to the budding partnership with RJAF. Presently, three NAF pilots have been trained in Jordan and another set would soon depart for training.
He also indicated the readiness of the NAF to assist the RJAF, especially in the area of Research and Development, where NAF has been recording major feats.
The Jordan military chief also visited the recently established Air Force Comprehensive Girls School Abuja, where he expressed his satisfaction with the standard of teaching facilities.
The intervention in education and health care are two areas the NAF has provided humanitarian succor to Nigerians, especially Internally Displaced Persons, in support of the Federal Government’s programmes to alleviate their sufferings.
After visiting Yola and Maiduguri, Major General Al-Hnaity, praised NAF’s operational procedure, and the dynamism of Air Marshal Abubakar in boosting the operating standards of the NAF.
The visiting air chief witnessed, firsthand, the NAF operational procedure, including briefing of pilots and the take off of one of the missions in the ongoing Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency operations in the Northeast.
He commended the system for mission planning, air intelligence acquisition, imagery analysis as well as command and control, including the dedication of NAF pilots and ground crew, which demonstrated the strong commitment of the NAF to fight terrorism and make the country safe.
He also appreciated the provision of modern facilities at the NAF Medical Centre in Maiduguri, including the Cancer Screening Centre, which enabled NAF to provide free medical care to IDPs and other locals.
Air Marshal Abubakar expressed optimism on the benefits of the visit especially in the area of capacity building, sharing experiences in Research and Development with the visiting Jordanian team.
The Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command of the NAF, AVM Mohammed Idris, received the visitors in the Northeast.
The Jordan Air Force Commander and his delegation were in Lagos where they paid a courtesy call on the AOC Logistics Command, AVM Ibrahim Yahaya.
The team also visited the 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot and the 301 Heavy Airlift Group, which maintains and operates the NAF C-130H aircraft respectively, as well as the Rotary Wing, which operates and maintains the NAF Super Puma helicopter.
In Kaduna, the team visited some of the NAF’s training institutions. They undertook a visit to the Air Force Research and Development Centre, where it they were briefed on some ongoing NAF research projects.
Major General Al-Hnaity expressed satisfaction with the depth of research work at the centre. He reiterated that technology was instrumental to prosecuting air warfare in modern times and praised NAF for taking giant strides towards technological advancement. He however remarked that the nation should be ready to invest sufficiently to consolidate on the steps already set in motion.
The visitors were obviously impressed by the determination of the NAF leadership and personnel to overcome all odds; especially the passion of the CAS for capacity development, constant professionalism of officers and men and efforts to make NAF a dynamic firepower.
These feats, the CAS has repeatedly emphasized, were made possible largely by the progressive policies of the Buhari Administration and the support of the National Assembly.
The coming of the Jordan air chief on the heels of various advocacy and collaboration trips by the CAS is a manifestation of the bilateral benefits of NAF’s international collaboration to build the required capacity.
Such gains, including robust training, modern infrastructure, aircraft procurement and reactivation are attributable to the support of President Muhammadu Buhari to the armed forces, which the NAF has creditably utilized.
The NAF, now more than ever, has enjoyed the respect of many foreign nations resulting in several collaborations.
Indeed, Major General Yousef Al-Hnaity’s weeklong visit no doubt signals the deepening cooperation between the two countries and the concretization of the proposed Aqaba Process - a multi-lateral approach where Nigeria is expected to lead in bringing together countries in the West Africa sub-region under a collective security pact with Jordan.
Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar and the Commander, Royal Jordanian Air Force, Major General Yousef Al-Hnaity visiting the frontline of the war against insurgency in Maiduguri