The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it  has trained 288 officers overseas in different fields of aircraft and armament engineering in the last three years.

The Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar, made the disclosure during winging ceremony of NAF engineering armament personnel in Kaduna on Friday to mark its 54th anniversary.

The theme of NAF 54th anniversary is: “Enhancing Nigerian Air Force Operational Capacity for Timely Employment of Air Power in Response to Contemporary Security Challenges”.

According to him, aircraft and armament maintenance are key factors in projecting air power which is in fulfilment of NAF’s constitutionally assigned role of defending Nigeria’s airspace and territorial integrity.

Abubakar said NAF was committed to ensuring that its engineering armament units was appropriately equipped to carry out it assigned roles.

He said the machine tools workshop at the engineering depots in Lagos and Markurdi were recently reactivated and upgraded to add value to research and development.

According to him, efforts are being geared toward fabrication of some mechanical aircraft parts locally.

“We have also established the Central Avionics Overhaul and Calibration Centre here in Kaduna to domestic repair, overhaul and calibration of avionics equipment and instruments of NAF aircraft types.

“The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) bill recently passed by National Assembly and assented to by Mr President will grant the institution autonomy, reduce its reliance on NAF.

“This will enable it to partake in international collaboration, especially in Research and Development with other world renowned institutions such as the UNDP and European Union.

“This is part of the efforts  to reposition NAF aircraft engineering and armament facilities in line with global best practices.

“A board of officers was constituted to categorise engineering and armament personnel according to their skills to enhance career planning and maximize productivity.

Abubakar said that NAF currently operated 25 aircraft types and variety of weapons system source from Western and Eastern bloc and would be inducting more platforms in the future.

Earlier, the Chief of Aircraft Engineering, AVM Abdulganiyu Olabisi, said Air forces in various parts of the world have decided unique ways of identifying their aircraft engineering.

Olabisi said countries like Pakistan and India, among others, identified aircraft engineers by the type of insignias they wear.

“In enhancing productivity and career progression, the chief of air staff convened a board of officers to come up with modalities to categorise NAF aircraft and armament personnel based on knowledge and skills.

“The board recommended 42 personnel for senior category, these personnel are to wear half wing with red laurels while 66 others in the intermediate category are to wear half wing with blue laurels.

“In the basic category, we have 108 personnel who are to wear half wing with no laurels.’’

According to him, the commissioned officers are to wear Golden Wings while none-commission officers are to wear silver half wing and the NAF engineering and armament personnel is to be reviewed annually.