The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, said on Wednesday it had resumed the training of pilots for Unarmed Air Vehicles, otherwise known as drones.
As part of the Federal Government efforts to tackle insecurity in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled a surveillance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) produced locally by the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology.
The NAF Chief of Logistics, Iliyasu Muhammad, made the disclosure in Kaduna, while receiving the service oldest aircraft, repaired by Dornier.
Mr. Muhammad, an air vice marshal, who also flagged off the training of pilots to man the drones, said the aim was to enhance the strategic response of NAF to security challenges in the country.
“Unmanned Aerial Vehicle can loiter and maintain an ‘‘unblinking stare’’ over a chosen area for hours. Thanks to the ability to ‘‘watch and wait’’, its operator, often miles away, can provide a continuous stream of vital information on enemy activities and if the platform is weaponised, it patiently chooses the best moment to engage.
“Thus the employment of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capabilities for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and where possible, strike operations significantly increases the chances of success while minimising unwanted collateral damage.
“Government remains determined, despite numerous challenges to bring about the much-needed CHANGE that will lift our beloved nation to its rightful place as a major economic and political force on the world stage.
“From the military perspective, the added capacity for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance provided by the TSAIGUMI will boost ongoing and future security operations. As this project moves into the next stage, which is mass production, it would create employment and possibly generate revenue as Nigeria’s first military export product.”
Earlier, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said, the desire to have battle space dominance and awareness has increased especially with the increasing complexity of contemporary security challenges and the moral burden that has been placed on professional Armed Forces to conduct military operations with precision and minimum collateral damage.
He said, that was why the need for capacity development in the area of UAVs and other scientific and technological innovations has been foremost in his mind since he assumed the leadership of the Air Force.
“I therefore consider research and development as a fundamental enabler of capacity building, hence ‘strategic partnerships with MDAs for enhanced research and development’ features as one of the key drivers of my vision. what we are doing in the NAF in terms of promotion of R&D is in line with the STI policy.
The CAS however highlighted some of the physical and performance parameters of the TSAIGUMI including wing span of 5.16 metres and a maximum take-off mass of 95kg, Electro-Optic/Infra-Red (EO/IR) camera system while its engine runs on a 50:1 MOGAS/Oil mixture.
“It requires only 300 metres of runway for operation, with a mission range of 100km, a service ceiling at 15,000 feet and operational endurance of about 10 hours. The performance parameters and operational characteristics, would make this platform a critical component of NAF ISR architecture. Consequently, the UAV would be mass produced and employed in theatres of operations across the country,” the CAS added.