Helicopter pilots of the Nigerian Army will now receive aviation training from India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
HAL recently signed a contract with the Nigerian Army to train six officers for basic helicopter flying training phase-I at the Rotary Wing Academy (RWA), Bengaluru.
The contract was signed by the Chief of Training, Nigerian Army Maj Gen. O F AZINTA & GM, Helicopter, HAL B K Tripathy, in presence of DA HCI Col. Sachin Dubey in Abuja & Dy. DA HCN, Delhi Lt. Col. Salami in Bengaluru.
Rotary Wing Academy, India specializes on helicopter flying training of abinitio civil and military pilot trainees. The basic flying training is carried out on Schweizer Helicopter, Chetak and Dhruv (ALH) helicopters.
Earlier last year, the Nigerian Army indicated an interest in acquiring combat helicopters to support and provide rapidly deployable firepower to its field-deployed troops in the northeastern area.
The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) disclosed in February that a full-fledged Nigerian Army Aviation is a critical component in the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns in the country.
The Nigerian Army blamed the lack of air power as the reason for the prolonged battle with the Boko Haram insurgents. The service also opined that it needs its own ‘air force’ to quickly wrap up the long-drawn military campaign.
In March last year, the former Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai (rtd) commissioned the first set of Nigerian Army Pilots trained by the Nigerian Army Aviation School to fly helicopters.
At that time, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai (rtd) said that the Nigerian Army had acquired two helicopters toward the actualisation of its Aviation wing, but he declined to mention the type.
Regarding airframe procurement, Nigeria is expected to tender a call for information later this year to helicopter manufacturers.
However, the perceived inter-service rivalry between the Air Force and Army, which may have been impeding seamless security services delivery in the country seems to be the major cause of the bottleneck in an asset acquisition.
Unwilling to give up any of it’s constituted security role, the Nigeria’s air force has strongly countered the army’s pitch for armed helicopters, stating that the nation cannot afford that, given the economic situation.
Meanwhile, The Nigerian military has indicated interest to collaborate with the Pakistan Armed Forces (PAF) in the area of defense capabilities to further boost its operations.
This reflects Nigeria’s policy of neutrality, seeing as India and Pakistan are both major economic rivals in Asia.