The Nigerian air force was founded on the 18th of April 1964. As at today, this arm of the Nigerian armed forces has up to 10,000 active personnel. They also have up to 261 aircrafts. They have their headquarters in Abuja. The Nigerian Airforce is headed by a Chief of Air Staff and the present Chief of Air Staff is Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
The Nigerian government had spent so much on the Nigeria Airforce to make sure the body is well equipped so that it can meet up to what is expected of it as the airforce of the most populous black nation in the world.
In 2005, for example, the Nigerian government approved a total sum of $251 million for the purpose of equipping the Nigeria Airforce. With this amount, the body was able to purchase several aircrafts towards boosting its operations.
Before the civil war, there was not much development in the Nigeria Airforce. The number of aircrafts available then was not many. However, the business of civil war forced the Nigerian government to procure several aircrafts to boost its civil war efforts against Biafra. The effort ended up paying off as it gave the Nigerian military an upper hand in the war.
In those days also, only very few had the required training to fly fighter jets among the officers of the Nigeria Airforce. During the civil war for example, Nigeria had to hire foreigners, especially Egyptians to help in flying its jet fighters. Though, the excuse given then was that those military pilots from Egypt were trained to better handle night flights. Yes, the Nigeria Airforce carried out most of its air attacks on Biafra during the night as this makes it more difficult for Biafra troop on the ground to pick out the fighter jets, and this made it somewhat difficult to fire at the aircrafts.
Things started looking up for the Nigeria Airforce shortly after the civil war. More procurement were made and the military pilots were exposed to better trainings, which made them able to attain a new standard and level of superiority in Africa and beyond. Most of the aircrafts in the possession of the Nigeria Airforce were procured from Russia and other eastern countries. These same eastern countries were also the sources of where Nigeria was getting ammunitions and weapons for its aircrafts.
There had been several efforts made by the officers in the Nigeria Airforce to produce homemade aircrafts. However, none of these efforts had ever seen the light of day. Most of the efforts were made in recent times.
However, it looks like the Nigerian government is not so keen on helping these individuals to develop their skills. Maybe they feel it is cheaper to procure already made aircrafts from other countries than to develop an entirely new project instituted by one of the soldiers.
The Nigeria Airforce is organized in such a way to meet with the requirements of the defense and service needs of the Nigeria Airforce. The British laid down a rule that seem to still be in force in the Nigeria Airforce till today. They have 4 operational commands, 4 direct reporting units, 6 principal staff branches and one service headquarters. This structure had been in force for years and it is still being maintained till today. The structure had worked perfectly and the Nigeria Airforce sees no reason to change it.
The principal adviser to the President of Nigeria, on behalf of the Nigeria Airforce, is the Chief of Air Staff. He, along with the chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Defense staff are responsible for briefing the President on security situations in the country. They are also members of the National Security Council, along with the National Security Adviser.
The works of the Nigeria Airforce cannot be done alone and the body needs collaboration with other arms of the Nigeria armed forces in order to function perfectly. The Nigeria Airforce headquarters is divided into 8 different staff branches and these branches are highlighted below:
- Air secretary branch
- Inspection branch
- Accounts and budget branch
- Administration branch
- Logistics branch
- Air engineering branch
- Operations branch
- Policy and plans branch
The branch head is the one that supervises the affairs of each of these branches. It must be noted also that each of the branch heads is a military personnel and this helps ensure better discipline and compliance with military standard in each of the branches.
The Nigeria Airforce has its Tactical Air Command located at Makurdi. This Command is responsible for controlling, implementing and interpreting all the operations of Nigeria Airforce. Other very important control Commands are located in areas highlighted below:
- Forward Operations (65 FOB) Badagry
- Air Defence Group (ADG) NAF Makurdi.
- Strike Group (75 STG) YOLA
- Air Maritime Group (81 AMG),
- Special Operations Group (97 SOG), Port Harcourt
- Air Combat Training Group (99 ACTG) Kainji
- NAF Hospital, Makurdi
- LOG GP Makurdi
- BSG MKD
- NAF HOSP YOLA
- CG MAID
Mobility command, on the other hand, is located at Yenagoa. This command post was established in 2011. There are 7 units in it and these units are spread across other states in Nigeria, like Bayelsa state, Abuja, Delta state, Cross Rivers state, Kwara State, and Lagos State. Function of the mobility command is to oversee strategic and tactical airlift in the support of military operations, as well as the government.
Function of the mobility command is to oversee strategic and tactical airlift in the support of military operations, as well as the government.
Below is the list of officers in the Nigeria Airforce in the order of their seniority, with the most senior coming first:
- Marshal of the Air Force: he is the overall head of the Nigeria Airforce and he represents the interest of the Airforce in the presidency. He is appointed by the President. The President can also decide to sack him any time the former feels so.
- Air Chief Marshal: He is the second in command to the Marshal of the Air Force.
- Air Marshal
- Air Vice Marshal
- Air Commodore
- Group Captain
- Wing Commander
- Squadron Leader
- Flight Lieutenant
- Flying Officer
- Pilot Officer: he is the least of al the officers in the Nigeria Airforce.