Nigerian Air Force, NASENI to Finalise Work on First Made-in-Nigeria Helicopter

…President Buhari Directs Launch of Helicopter before End of Administration in 2023

By Chioma Ndife

The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), which is the research and development(R&Ds) arm of the Nigeria Air Force and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) under the Presidency, has taken up the challenge of completing all work on the first Made-in-Nigeria helicopter initiated by NASENI which President Muhammadu Buhari had directed should be launched before the end of his administration in 2023.

According to the press release signed by the Deputy Director of Information, NASENI, Mr. Olusegun Ayeyenikan, the President directed the relocation of the project from NASENI’s site in Abuja to AFIT in kaduna, Kaduna State, in order to fast track the Helicopter project.

The release read, ”The official handover of space and hangar (Helipad), including the runaway, for a test-flight of a helicopter located in Air Force Institute, Kaduna, will hold today, 21st June, 2022.”

President Buhari who serves as the Chairman of NASENI’s Governing Board, had directed NASENI to complete work on the helicopter project and to make it ready for official launch by him before the expiration of his tenure in 2023.

The press release revealed that NASENI in 2017 entered into technical agreement with Dynali Helicopter Company in Belgium for the actualisation of the project before the latest directive by the President for the project to be expanded to include collaboration with AFIT and the subsequent relocation of the project for its continuation at the Air Force Institute in Kaduna.

While briefing the commandant of AFIT, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of NASENI, Engr. Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna, explained that part of the Presidential directives was that all NASENI projects in Aeronautics should be relocated to AFIT and to be included in the collaborations between the two institutions.

The collaboration of the institutions was to ensure that military science and knowledge by civilians are harnessed for the benefits of the larger Nigerian society.

Contributing, the Commandant of AFIT, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Aminu Yakubu, said that the directive from the President was a task that both NASENI and AFIT must carry out with all the resources that are required to bring the dream to reality. ‘We are determined to collaborate to make the dream on the made-in-Nigeria helicopter become a reality”, he said.

President Buhari’s directive also stated that AFIT would provide space and helipad for the NASENI helicopter and to relocate the project to AFIT so that the two institutions could collaborate.

Air Vice Marshal Yakubu said the collaboration between NASENI & AFIT was the clincher collaboration to launch Nigeria into relevance in the world of aviation with the proposed involvement in aircraft design and development.

‘The high capacity and manpower in this area have made the AFIT acquired experts about ten PhDs in aeronautics,’ he disclosed.

‘The Air Force is on the verge of developing unmanned aerial vehicles. AFIT has gone very far in the design and manufacturing of air vehicles. The collaboration to produce the First made in Nigeria helicopter between the two organisations was sacrosanct and therefore would be pursued with vigour in the days and months ahead’.

According to the terms of the collaboration, some NASENI technical staff would be resident in AFIT for adequate interface for the purpose of sharing knowledge and technical capacity.

The handing over ceremony took place and the following items were handed over to the Chairman of NASENI: the hangar, office space and run-way, for the completion of the aircraft, the Made in Nigeria helicopter.

Speaking to journalists, Prof Haruna said the journey to produce the first made-in-Nigeria helicopter began in 2017. He explained that the journey of seeing the NASENI first made-in-Nigeria helicopter was gradually coming to fruition.