Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Tuesday made history with the decoration of the first female fighter pilot, Flying Officer Kafayat Sanni, and the first female combat helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, with their pilot wings.
The two female NAF pilots were decorated alongside 11 other young officers after successful completion of their flying training courses.
With these latest additions, NAF has successfully winged over 100 pilots in the last four years, who are now adding impetus to the fight against insurgency and other internal security operations in the country.
The ceremony also witnessed the decoration of the first female Air Warrant Officer (AWO) in the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Grace Garba, with her new rank.
Garba was promoted to the highest rank in the Non-Commissioned Officers’ cadre for her exceptional hard work and contributions to the service over the years.
In his remarks, the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, noted that the ceremony indeed marked another milestone in the history of the NAF and expressed his delight over the achievement.
He explained that he was particularly happy because two of the 13 pilots winged were female Regular Combatant officers.
According to him, the two female pilots were celebrated, not only because they are female officers, but also outstanding aviators. He revealed that the first female fighter pilot was trained in the United States, following an excellent performance during her initial flying training course at 401 Flying Training School Kaduna, while the second graduated from Starlite International Academy.
Abubakar expressed the readiness of the NAF to continue to invest in human capacity building, since the service is a veritable instrument for maintenance of national security, stating that the NAF would keep on discharging its constitutional responsibility of protecting Nigeria’s sovereignty and integrity by air.
He said NAF has trained a total of 67 Instructor Pilots since 2015, adding that NAF has produced over a hundred pilots within the same period.
“Currently, we have 61 pilots undergoing ab-initio/basic flying training, while 50 are undergoing various forms of advanced flying training courses both locally and abroad,” he added.
He expressed confidence that the NAF and indeed Nigeria would soon reap the benefits that these pilots would undoubtedly add to NAF operations, reassuring all Nigerians that NAF remains fully committed to the successful execution of its constitutional roles and will strive to continually meet its statutory responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of the nation, acting singly or jointly with sister services and other security agencies.