Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, on Tuesday, gave an insight into the root cause of the crashes involving its fighter and surveillance jets, including the one in Niger State.
Abubakar also vowed that the air troops attached to Operation Hadrin Daji and Operation Whirl Punch carrying out operations in both Niger and North West region of the country against bandits will continue to crack down on the non-state actors.
He stated this at NAF headquarters in Abuja when Niger State governor, Umar Bago, paid him a condolence visit over the death of his pilots and some soldiers.
The air chief attributed the crashes to seasonal challenges which are weather conditions – the development he said hampers the striking capabilities of its officers during operations.
According to him, “On our own parts, we are not folding our arms, we are just living with the challenges. The ideal thing is to strive for zero incident and accident in any operational environment.
“We’re striving for that, it is virtually impossible to achieve but then, you strive for it, so that at the end of the day, you minimise whatever happens. Or when it happens, the effect is significantly abated.
“We are putting a lot initiatives in place to check this. For example, we have adopted the safety management systems in all our operations. We have also adopted operational risk management procedures among others. Going forward, we are striving to achieve zero incident in all our operations. That challenge we’re addressing.
“We also have other challenges which are seasonal. For example, the rain has come and there is route cloud, this hampers what we can see especially in terms of our strike capabilities and (ISI) that is the system intelligence surveillance and renaissance mission.
“Also, when the harmattan comes, it also has effects on our operations. These are challenges we live with and we hope that sometimes you understand when our operations are hampered or impeded by some of these challenges.”
Abubakar said as long as they operate and fly in order to degrade the enemies, incident or accident cannot be ruled, adding that the important thing is to ensure the problem is reduced to the barest minimum.
He stated: “As you are all aware, Niger state and indeed other states of the North West region are plagued by the menace of banditry, insurgency and other security challenges. These challenges have continued to threaten the peace and security and well-being of the people.
“I want to assure you that the Nigerian Air Force and the Armed Forces of Nigeria will remain committed, dedicated and undaunted in our efforts at eradicating these security challenges being perpetrated by these non-state actors.
“In this light, the Nigerian Air Force has continued to increase its air power commitment in both Operation Hadrin Daji and Operation Whirl Punch which directly impact the activities of these criminal elements in Niger State and the North West region as a whole.
“Our approach now, is to intensify our activities in tandem with the land forces to completely eradicate all these criminal elements, to at least significantly degrade their combat capabilities.
“This is also in tandem with my philosophy which is to transform the NAF into agile and resilient force which is capable of meeting all the air power demands of our national security in all operational environments.
“Despite all our commitment, our dedication and efforts we have put in, to eradicate these security challenges, we have a couple of issues that bother us which one of them is the crash of our air plane yesterday.
“The fact is that, as long as we operate, fly airplanes, there would be incident and accident. In fact, the volume of incidents and accidents is directly proportional to the rate of operations.
“You would have also observed that in the past couple of years, let’s say five, six seven years, we have inducted quite a few platforms in the Nigerian Air Force and the rate of our flying activities have significantly improved.”