Friday, 21 June 2024 04:46

Nigerian Air Force set to add 50 military aircraft to arsenal

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The Nigerian air force said Tuesday it will acquire 50 new aircraft to strengthen its capabilities against armed gangs and terrorists in northwest Nigeria.

Nigerian Chief of Air Staff Hassan Bala Abubakar made the announcement at the opening of new military facilities, including two aircraft hangars in northwest Katsina state.

Abubakar said the aircraft would include 12 AH-1 attack helicopters, 24 M-346 combat planes, 12 AW109 multipurpose helicopters and a pair of Casa 295 transport aircraft. He did not disclose the cost, nor did he say who would provide the aircraft.

He said Nigeria is expected to receive them by next year.

The aircraft will be used to bolster offensives against jihadist groups and armed gangs that have terrorized northwest and central states in recent years, Abubakar said.

But security analyst Mike Ejiofor says acquiring 50 aircraft is overambitious and possibly misdirected.

"I know it will bolster the fight against terrorism, but I believe that we should concentrate more on land than air. We're not at war,” Ejiofor said.

The money, he said, should “have been channeled to training and provision of welfare for the ground troops. I think we would've achieved more results."

Abubakar’s announcement came as Kaduna state authorities announced Tuesday a partnership with the military to set up three new operational fronts within the state.

Kaduna state Governor Uba Sani said, "We concluded with the military to set up forward-operating bases in southern Kaduna, and another one in the Giwa and Birnin-Gwari axis. All the arrangements are being concluded."

The Nigerian air force came under heavy criticism in December after more than 80 people were killed and dozens wounded during an airstrike in Kaduna state that was intended to target gangs.

Nigerian authorities have promised to operate with more precision to avoid future accidents.

Nigerian Chief of Defense Staff General Christopher Musa told journalists in Abuja, "The armed forces of Nigeria are highly professional. We're here to protect innocent citizens, not to harm them. Whatever it was that happened there was a mistake, but we're addressing such issues."

Ejiofor said authorities should focus more on boosting the ability of the air force to gather and process accurate information about the activities of armed groups.

"These strikes are intelligence-driven, so we must get the intelligence before they're guided to the areas,” he said. “I think what we should've done is to deploy more drones that will be sending this data."

 

VOA

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