The Nigerian Air Force says it has successfully completed its first in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance of a C-130H aircraft, NAF 917.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said: “This is taking place few days after receiving three L-39ZA aircrafts that were reactivated in-country to enhance the number of serviceable fighter jets in its inventory.”
Daramola said the acceptance ceremony for NAF 917, also witnessed the flag-off of the PDM of another C-130H aircraft, NAF 913, at the 631 Aircraft Maintenance Depot (631 ACMD), Ikeja on Monday.
He added: “The local reactivation of NAF 917, which was carried out by Messrs SABENA TECHNICS of France in conjunction with NAF engineers and technicians, involved extensive disassembly of the aircraft parts as well as inspection, repair and overhaul of components, amongst others.
“The involvement of NAF personnel in the reactivation was to further expose them to every stage of the in-depth maintenance process, with a view to building NAF’s inherent maintenance capabilities.”
Daramola said the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at the acceptance ceremony, stated that the reactivation would impact on NAF efforts toward providing routine support and combat sustainment for NAF as well as Armed Forces of Nigeria operations.
Abubakar noted that the in-country maintenance had not only resulted in substantial foreign exchange savings for Nigeria, but also marked the beginning of a new dawn in NAF’s strategic plan to develop a robust capacity for in-country maintenance and sustenance of platforms and equipment.
Daramola quoted Abubakar as saying the successful execution of the PDM had further reinforced the NAF’s belief that with the right attitude, dedication and encouragement, the Service would make huge progress and achieve success in human capacity development and drive in support for national security imperatives.
He said: “The significance of today’s acceptance ceremony can best be appreciated by acknowledging the critical role of airlift in ensuring that logistics requirements of our troops involved in various internal security operations are met within the shortest possible time.
“The C-130H fleet, in particular, has been one of the key fulcrums in providing sustainment to our troops involved in ongoing internal security operations through airlift and movement of troops, equipment, armament and other materials.
“The C-130H has also been critical to NAF’s response to emergencies or in fulfilling Nigeria’s responsibilities to international peace keeping operations and ensuring stability, not just in the West African sub-region but also across the continent.”
The CAS cited examples of operations in which the C-130H played critical roles to include ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone and airlift of troops to Congo, Mali and Sudan.
He said the C-130H also played critical role in the recent success of the ECOWAS Military Intervention Group (ECOMIG) operation in the Gambia through airlift of troops and materials to and from the theatre of operation and a host of other peace keeping operations.
Abubakar appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for the priority given to NAF’s efforts to maintain its platforms and equipment as well as the support to acquire new ones.
The CAS emphasised that the in-country maintenance was to ensure transfer of technical know-how and experience from the technical partners to NAF engineers and technicians.
Abubakar said: “This is in line with our plan to build in-house capacity to ensure that we domicile the skills and expertise required to carry out maintenance activities in order to better support and sustain NAF air operations especially in the face of competing needs for national resources.
“This is also the main thrust of all our other aircraft maintenance, reactivation and Life Extension Programmes as well as PDM efforts being carried out in collaboration with other technical partners on the Alpha Jet, L-39ZA, Mi-35P, EC-135 helicopter and C-130H (NAF 913), currently docked for PDM in.
“These efforts are also in tandem with our Research and Development (R&D) drive which has started yielding results in many areas such as local fabrication of tools and spares, some of which were utilised in the conduct of the recently conducted PDM.”
AVM Marshal Adeyinka Olabisi, the Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command, expressed delight to finally witness a successfully executed in-country PDM after previous attempts had failed.
Olabisi said the acceptance of NAF 917 was a watershed in NAF’s long-term aspiration to domesticate in-depth maintenance of the C-130H Fleet, which was the strategic objective for the establishment of the ACMD.
He explained that the PDM was a calendar inspection conducted at six-year intervals or after 5,000 flying hours.
Olabisi said the 631 ACMD also witnessed the reactivation of unserviceable hangar infrastructure and training of personnel in the use of some special equipment which had been lying idle in its warehouse since the C-130H fleet was delivered in the 1970s.
He said the 301 Heavy Airlift Group, Ikeja, made painstaking effort to conduct comprehensive ground and in-flight acceptance checks to certify NAF 917 safe for flight operations in accordance with Lockheed Acceptance Checks Manual and international best practices.