Three new jets – two Augusta 109 power and one M117 – were on Thursday added to the Nigeria Air Force inventory.
There are now 22 fighter jets in the fleet.
Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said on Thursday that 17 platform (jets) including 12x Super Tucanos from the United States are being expected.
“In addition, the NAF through its in-country maintenance capacity building programme, is reactivating 3x Alpha jets as well as Mi – 35P helicopter gunship.
“Besides, the service has successfully conducted the in-country periodic depot maintenance of 2x C- 130 transport aircraft with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari. The service has undoubtedly come a long way from where it was in 2015.
“The resultant effect of these acquisition and reactivation of grounded aircraft has been game changing.
“Accordingly, the NAF has flown 36,853 hours in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists since 2015.”
He claimed that NAF, in synergy with surface forces, had substantially decimated the insurgents from their previous positions of strength, thereby forcing them to abandon their so-called caliphate headquarters in Gwoza.
Air Marshal Abubakar said the terrorists were currently operating in small groups in ungoverned spaces in the Northeast where they take advantage from time to time to attack soft targets.
At the ceremony, the President said “the successes recorded so far “ by the military clearly signposted that he had kept his word.
Apart from the top military officers, Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Defence Gen. Bashir Magashi and Speaker of House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila attended the ceremony.
The President thanked Nigerians for “believing in our government in spite of occasional outrages.”
He also lauded the invaluable contributions of security agencies towards the decimation of Boko Haram.
He said:”I promised to put an end to Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities that have bedeviled our country during my inaugural speech as President.
“You will all agree with me that the successes we have achieved so far have restored our pride and honour the world over.
“Consequently, I want to sincerely thank Nigerians for believing in our government in spite of occasional outrages, coming together as a nation, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations in our strive to bring this menace to an end.”
He stressed that “professionalism, capacity building and adequately equipping the armed forces and the other security agencies are major policies of this administration.”
The President also commended the contributions of NAF in international security, peace-keeping and humanitarian operations in sub -Sahara Africa.
According to him, the intervention of NAF in places like The Gambia, Guinea-Conakry, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Cameroon is a source of pride to Nigeria..
He said, “I’m delighted to be here … to once again inaugurate two Augusta 109 Power and MI17 into NAF inventory. About a year ago, we inaugurated two Augusta 109 Power helicopter gunships, which were procured from Italy.
“The platforms were subsequently inducted into the Air force inventory to boost its operational capability. This was necessary to improve the delivery of promised air power in support of our counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts.
“It is on record that these additional platforms have contributed immensely to the Air force’s successes in decimation of Boko Haram insurgents.
“This is indeed most commendable as our Air force, alongside other services, continues to play its unique role in the current insurgency operations and other operations, particularly in the Northeast and the Northwest where our officers, airmen and airwomen, soldiers and ratings, are performing gallantly.
“The acquisition of these aircraft, amongst other military equipment, despite our budgetary constraints, is an expression of our commitment. We shall ensure that every sector of our nation experiences the change that we have promised”.
Gen. Magashi, also said that the 17 helicopters being expected would add impetus to the ongoing war against terrorism.
Troops capture gun trucks in Borno.
The Army said yesterday that a cache of arms, including hand propelled gun bombs, were recovered from Boko Haram insurgents during a clearance operation by troops of 156 Battalion deployed in Mainok, Borno State
It added that many of the terrorists, who laid ambush for the troops along the Jakana – Mainok Road were killed, while many others fled with gunshot injuries.
Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, said: “Several Boko Haram insurgents were neutralized while others escaped with gunshot wounds.
“Two Boko Haram criminals’ gun trucks, one BMG , one DSHK anti – aircraft gun, one AK 47 rifle, one rocket propelled gun bomb, 200 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition (belted) and a box of 7.62mm special ammunition were captured.”
Iliyasu added that troops of the 121 Task Force deployed in Gwoza Local Government Area successfully ambushed Boko Haram fighters at Sabon Garin Kirawa on January 27.
He said the troops of 121 Task Force Battalion in Pulka “sprung an ambush against the insurgents’’ and neutralized them. The troops, according to him, killed two of the terrorists.
Col. Iliyasu stated that apart from other clashes between soldiers and the insurgents in Gubio, Mafa and Mobbar Local Government Areas as well as Lambawa forest on January 28, 29, 30 and 31, an elite troops of 707 Special Forces Brigade under Operation Smokey Thunder, on February 5, 2020, smoked out another set of insurgents in Gudumbali.
The media coordinator added that in all the battles, Boko Haram recorded heavy casualty and lost their weapons to the military.
His words: “In one of the most devastating defeats of Boko Haram criminals in recent times, on 5 February 2020, elite troops of 707 Special Forces Brigade sighted some Boko Haram terrorists mounted on nine Gun Trucks.
“The troops initiated a hot pursuit and made contact with the criminal. At the end of the encounter, five Boko Haram terrorists were neutralized and one of the Boko Haram criminals’ gun truck was destroyed. “Additionally, one Dushka anti-aircraft gun, one PKM machine gun belt, 5 AK 47 rifles, one hand held radio, two android phones and three hand grenades were captured by the troops.
“Sadly, one gallant officer and one gallant soldier were wounded in action.”