The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), says it has graduated 30 Helicopter Backdoor Gunners (HBDG) to enhance counter insurgency operation in the country.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal, Sadique Abubakar, made the disclosure at the graduation ceremony of the backdoor gunners on Monday in Kaduna.
Abubakar, who was represented by NAF Chief of Training and Operations, AVM James Gawni, disclosed that the 30 graduates comprised 18 personnel of the Air Force and 12 others of the Nigerian Army .
He said that the five-week training stemmed from the fluid nature of the contemporary security challenges bedeviling the country.
Abubakar said: “The use of rotary platforms has become imperative for close air support, because experience over time, has shown that rotary platforms are best suited in the battle space against insurgents and terrorists as well as in the conduct of Close Air Support missions”.
The CAS noted that the training was to transform the service into to a highly professional and disciplined force through effective, efficient and timely deployment of air power.
Abubakar said that the 30 graduates were part of the over 4, 000 personnel earmarked for both overseas and local training in order to build adequate capacity in response to national security challenges.
“In the spirit of brotherhood and ensuring synergy with sister services, the NAF during this course trained 12 Nigerian Army personnel as Back Door Gunners.
“Your commitments and determination during your training has distinguished and made you all to earn your place and become part of the elite team in your respective service.
“I, therefore, urge you to imbibe the attributes and core values of the Nigerian Air Force, which include excellence; honour, honesty, courage, humility, perseverance and adaptability during operations and in your various fields of specialisations to ensure success in your endeavours,” he said.
Abubakar expressed NAF gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari, for the priority given to the training, operational and other requirements of the service.
While assuring unalloyed loyalty to the president, Abubakar reiterated commitment to support the Federal Government in its policy thrust of providing security and improved economy in the country.
Also speaking, the Air Officer Commanding, Grand Training Command, AVM Idi Amin said the course was aimed at tutoring the students on tactics, techniques and procedures for providing insertion and reinforcement capabilities as well as Close Air Support to ground troops during battle.
Amin said the combined training of Army and Air Force personnel would enhance synergy between them and other security agencies in the fight against insurgency.
On his part, the Commandant Regiment Training Centre, Group Capt. Daniel Komo added that the purpose of the training was to improve the ability of the helicopter crew to acquire skills to neutralise targets rapidly with pinpoint precision.
Komo said that the graduates passed all tests satisfactory, noting that five of them made the outstanding grade 90 and above, while five made an excellent grades 80-89 and five others passed B Grade 70-79.