The Presidency has handed over two Agusta 101 Westland Helicopters under the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
This was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s initiative to reduce cost of governance and enhance the capacity of the Armed Forces to fight insurgency and other criminal activities across the country.
In a brief handing over ceremony at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Baba – Gana Mongunu (Rtd), handed over the two helicopters through the Minister of Defence to the NAF.
Speaking during the occasion, the NSA noted that, the handing over of the aircraft was in fulfilment of President Buhari’s promise to reduce the cost on the amount expended on the PAF by downsizing the fleet. The NSA stated that one Agusta 109 helicopter and one king Air Beechcraft had earlier been released to the NAF in 2015 immediately the president took over.
He said that the rationale behind the handing over of the Aircraft to NAF was in realization of the need to enhance the capacity of the armed forces in its campaign against insurgency.
In addition to the ceded aircraft to the NAF, the NSA revealed that the president has also given the approval for the sales of one out of the two Falcon 7X and the Hawker 4000 aircraft operated by the Fleet, noting that a committee for the sales of both aircraft is already sitting and would soon complete their assignment.
In his acceptance remarks, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar disclosed that the release of the two aircraft would encourage the NAF to further remain focus on the fight against insurgency in the North East and militancy in the Nicer Delta region.
The Agusta 101 helicopter that was acquired in 2013 for the PAF, is a highly versatile helicopter used in both VIP (civil) and military applications. The two helicopters equally have ballistic defence capabilities and are equipped with defensive aid suites against certain forms of missile attacks.