BENJAMIN SAMSON in this report examines the exploits of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) personnel and its aircraft deployed in counter-insurgency/banditry operations across the county.
Nigeria is currently facing a myriad of security challenges in different parts of the country. Foremost among these challenges are the terrorists and bandits of Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province who terrorize innocent Nigerians and communities in the North East, North West and parts from the north-central.
As part of efforts to address these security challenges, the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), in collaboration with other security agencies, have through Operation HADIN KAI in the North East Area and of Operation HADARIN DAJI in the northwest area, engaged the criminals, leading to a large number of successes. To a large extent, these successes were achieved through the deployment of well-trained Nigerian Air Force (NAF) personnel and the aerial bombardment of terrorists and bandit enclaves by NAF aircraft.
Speaking to reporters recently on the progress of the ongoing military campaign against the insurgency in Abuja, Director of Defense Media Operations (DDMO), Major General Benard Onyeuko revealed that 21 Boko Haram terrorists had been killed by Nigerian Air Force (NAF) airstrikes in Lake Chad. region of Borno State.
He said, “On 11 July 2022, Operation HADIN KAI Air Component conducted air interdiction operations at Tumbum Jaki and Tumbum Murhu near Lake Chad in Borno State upon receipt of intelligent reports on insurgent activities in the general area.
“The successful airstrike neutralized several Boko Haram terrorists and destroyed their hideout. As a result, information received from residents indicates that more than 21 terrorists were neutralized in the airstrike.
In addition, at another press conference in Abuja earlier this month, General Onyeuko revealed that Air Force fighter jets had neutralized 82 terrorists in the village of Kofar Danya, in the area Bukkuyum Local Government Office, Zamfara State.
“Operation HADARIN DAJI Air Component carried out an air interdiction on June 22 at Kofar Danya village in Bukkuyum Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
“Following the report of the planned attack on the village of Kofar Danya, the air component mobilized to the scene and sighted more than one hundred and fifty (150) terrorists converging under thick vegetation. As a result, the platforms of the Nigerian Air Force engaged the terrorists with heavy bombardment which destroyed the concentration camp of the terrorists.
“As a result, credible comments from residents around Kofar Danya revealed that over eighty-two (82) of the terrorists suffered heavy casualties as many of them were neutralized while others suffered varying degrees of injury,” he said.
Similarly, Blueprint collected that airstrikes executed by Operation HADARIN DAJI Air Component on July 5, 2022 killed 42 terrorists near the villages of Zakka and Umadan in Safana Local Government Area in the State from Katsina.
According to military sources, an NAF plane, while carrying out an aerial reconnaissance mission, was informed of the sighting of terrorists between the villages of Zakka and Umadan.
This is because the terrorists had earlier overwhelmed Zakka village police outpost after overrunning Dutsenma police outpost and shot dead the police zone commander.
The terrorists had on the same day attacked an advance team of the presidential convoy in the state.
A senior Air Force officer said that the NAF plane flew to the scene in this way and after a thorough analysis of the area, the terrorists were finally detected in a village about 7.1 km west of the town of Safana and further west of the village of Yartuda.
He added that some residents were also seen fleeing the village as the terrorists ransacked and took some residents hostage while raiding the community from house to house.
“The terrorists were then tracked until they had isolated the hostages in a building about a kilometer from their staging area near the village. This is when the authorization for an air strike was been given.
“Afterwards, the place was hit by NAF planes in successive passes and dozens of unsuspecting terrorists were eliminated.
“Fortunately, as expected, the hostages were later seen escaping after the successful air interdiction by NAF aircraft. Following the airstrike, some of the villagers who had scattered when the terrorists overran the village for the first time were seen returning. The villagers also confirmed that more than 24 terrorists had been eliminated in the carefully planned and coordinated airstrikes,” the source said.
He added that similar success had also been recorded elsewhere in the same local government area as intelligence reports received on the evening of July 5, 2022 revealed that some terrorists with herds of cattle had been seen scattered around the Abdulkareem camp near Mahuta village in Safana local government. state domain.
“As a result, an NAF aircraft was dispatched to the general area where it remained over the area of interest until the early hours of July 6, 2022, when the first human was sighted.
“After sighting about 18 terrorists gathering at the scene, the aircraft attacked the targets. The drop of fire was observed within the compound and the impact radius of the blast was effective on other terrorists hidden within the enclosure.
“The feedback received indicated that the strikes were accurate and successful,” he said.
Relative peace in Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara
Similarly, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, credited relative peace in several parts of the northwest, including states like Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara, to increased synergy between proactive military and offensive operations targeted at clearing identified hideouts of bandits and terrorists making life unbearable for Nigerians.
He said so during a press briefing to mark the 58th anniversary of the NAF in Abuja recently.
“Nigerians must have experienced peace by returning to parts of the North West, to states like Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara and others. This is due to the efforts of the NAF and other security agencies to s jointly ensure that these criminal elements do not enjoy freedom of space and action,” DOPRI said.
Significantly, these successes can be attributed to the visionary and determined leadership of the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao.
Since his appointment as the 21st TAS by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 26, 2021, Air Marshal Amao has spared no effort to ensure that the NAF optimally fulfills its constitutional role. He vigorously pursued his vision and command philosophy for the NAF, which is “to enhance and sustain the essential airpower capabilities necessary to employ a joint force in pursuit of national security imperatives.”
Similarly, speaking at the NAF Day 2022 anniversary celebration at NAF Base Kano, Air Marshal Amao noted that since taking office, President Buhari has fully supported the forces. armies of Nigeria in general and indeed the NAF in particular to enable them to achieve their objective. Goals.
He commended the federal government for committing substantial national resources to building the overall capabilities of the armed forces to address security challenges in various parts of the country.
This, he said, not only succeeded in ameliorating the equipment constraints encountered in previous years and the ensuing implications, but it also spurred NAF personnel to become more engaged in the decimation of subversive elements, who seek to undermine the peace, progress, unity and faith of Nigeria.
It should be noted that the Buhari-led administration acquired many new platforms for the NAF while reactivating existing ones. The NAF has seen a tremendous increase in its aircraft holdings in various fleets.
In addition to previously acquired platforms, the NAF has, in 2021 alone, taken delivery of 15 new aircraft and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and supported the reactivation of previously unusable platforms to reinforce its ability to fight all forms of crime.
The latest additions are three JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter aircraft and 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft recently inducted into the NAF order of battle and are currently deployed in various theaters of operations across the country to give a boost to the ongoing war against insurgency, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the country.
Likewise, in pursuit of the second key driver of its vision, which is to pursue targeted training and development of human capacity and with the aim of raising the level of competence of personnel in order to contain the insurgency and other security issues in the country, Air Marshal Amao ensured that NAF personnel received the best training both at home and abroad.
Speaking earlier this year when the NAF flew five new pilots after completing the required courses, Air Marshal Amao said the ceremony underscored his leadership’s determination to maintain essential airpower capability necessary for the employment of the joint force in pursuit of national security imperatives.
“Ninety-nine officers and 24 airmen and airwomen undergo various training in various specialties in various countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, France, the Egypt and Pakistan, among others.
“In addition, 2,656 Nigerian Air Force personnel across all specialties are being trained to deliver air power in light of the NAF’s involvement in theaters of operations across the country.
“There is no doubt that the Nigerian Air Force is poised to maintain its combat readiness at a markedly higher level to counter domestic and foreign threats to the security and well-being of Nigeria,” did he declare.