Birthing of Army Aviation: NA acquires first batch of BELL UH-1 helicopters

…Army aviation wing to boost reconnaissance, surveillance, air mobility capabilities

 

The establishment of the Nigeria Army Aviation Wing could lead to bringing the insurgency across the country to a stop or at best reduce it to the barest minimum as the Nigerian Army (NA) has taken a significant step in enhancing its operational capabilities with the delivery of the first batch of new aircraft.

The berthing of the aircraft marks a significant milestone in the development of the Nigerian Army Aviation’s capacity to provide air support for ground operations.

Director, Army Public Relations, Major-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu in a statement said the aircraft BELL UH-1H (HUEY) helicopters were formally received by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja in a brief ceremony held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on June 20, 2024.

Receiving the aircraft, Gen. Lagbaja noted that the renewed drive to establish an NA Aviation wing was conceived by the then-former COAS, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah (rtd), in 2014, with a three-phase ten-year implementation plan.

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The COAS extolled former Chiefs of Army Staff, maintaining that their tenacity and drive, along with the collective efforts of personnel and the Nigerian Government’s political will, have been instrumental in realising the fruition of NA Aviation.

Lagbaja lauded the various successive administrations for their support in training NA Pilots and Ground Crews as well as putting in place requisite structures.

 

The COAS expressed gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for fulfilling his promise to fund the acquisition of NA platforms and providing all support to actualize the dream.

The BELL UH-1H Helicopters are equipped with advanced sensors and enablers to conduct a range of missions, including reconnaissance, surveillance, rescue, logistics, transportation, and medical evacuation.

The Army Chief also appreciated the forerunners, particularly the sister services and the Nigerian Police Force Aviation wing, for their support and encouragement.

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He noted that the NA is spurred to serve the nation better with the acquisition of the new platforms and provide Nigerians, with an enabling environment for economic prosperity.

The COAS, however, stressed that the army and the NAF would continue to work effectively together to tackle the security challenges in the country.

He said it was the global practice in the military for the army to have integral helicopters while leaving strategic demands to the Air Force.

“When we acquire the helicopters and other platforms, what we intend to achieve is to have organic helicopter formations and units in the fields, so that when troops are going for patrols, there is a helicopter overhead.

In his remarks, the coordinator of NA Aviation, Brigadier General Musa Alkali, stated that the arrival of the NA Aviation vanguard platforms is a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to enhance the operational capabilities of the NA Aviation, in line with the COAS’s Command Philosophy.

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Brig Gen Alkali stressed that the acquisition of the platforms is a clear demonstration of the NA’s aviation resolve, which started 40 years ago to continuously improve and adapt in the face of an evolving security landscape, adding that this will boost the NA’s reconnaissance, surveillance, and air mobility capabilities.

The coordinator acknowledged the tireless efforts of those involved in the execution of the NA Aviation plan, as well as the international partners.

Earlier, a consultant for the Nigerian Army Aviation, Major General Emeka Onwuamaegbu (retired) who is also a trained Helicopter Pilot, lauded the Nigerian Army for sustaining the vision over the years that saw the actualisation of the Nigerian Army aviation.

Wole Shadare

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