NAF reactivates additional L-39ZA aircraft in-country

To enhance its aircraft availability ratio in order to sustain its high tempo counter insurgency operations, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has completed the in-country reactivation of 2 additional L-39ZA combat trainer aircraft.

The aircraft reactivation was conducted in collaboration with Aero Vodochody of the Czech Republic -the Original Equipment Manufacturers, with the active participation of NAF engineers and technicians.

Both L-39ZA aircraft were handed over in a ceremony which took place on 4 December 2020, at the NAF 403 Flying Training School (403 FTS), Kano. The just-completed Life Extension Programmes (LEPs) on the 2 L-39ZA is just the latest in the series, and would further boost the number of available aircraft for the NAF to continue carrying out its constitutional roles, says NAF.

Speaking during the acceptance flight and handover ceremony, the Guest of Honour, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that reactivation work on a third L-39ZA aircraft was also progressing steadily, with the assurance that it would be completed and handed over the following week. The CAS further disclosed that there were also 3 other L-39ZA aircraft currently undergoing general overhaul and avionics upgrade at the Aero Vodochody Facility in Prague, Czech Republic, which were expected back in the Country before the Third Quarter of 2021.

The CAS noted that the re-induction of these aircraft and others to be reactivated, along with the new platforms being acquired, would further enhance the NAFs capability in dealing with the security challenges facing the Nation, especially in the North East, North West and North Central, which cover a vast expanse of about 705,000 square kilometres. The CAS however noted that security is not just about aircraft, bombs, bullets and rockets but requires the involvement and cooperation of all citizens. He therefore enjoined all well-meaning Nigerians to key into what the Armed Forces and other security agencies are doing and support their efforts to rid the Nation of all its enemies.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commander 403 FTS, Squadron Leader Mansur Yusuf, while appreciating the efforts of the CAS, stated that the reactivation and the release of aircraft to the NAF would undoubtedly boost capacity in the ongoing fight against insurgency and armed banditry in the Country whilst also adding value to the training of NAF pilots. He assured the CAS of the commitment of the personnel of 403 FTS to making safe and judicious use of the platforms such that the Service and indeed the Nation derive maximum benefits from the huge investment. I believe that there is no better way to motivate pilots other than to give them airworthy and reliable airplanes to fly, he said.

Highlight of the occasion was the acceptance flight of the newly-reactivated aircraft, featuring some aerobatic displays which were skillfully executed by NAF and Aero Vodochody pilots. This was preceded by the formal signing and handover of the aircraft documentation from the Aero Vodochody Technical Team to the NAF Chief of Aircraft Engineering (CAcE), AVM Musibau Olatunji. The CAcE subsequently handed the documentation over to the CAS, who in turn handed them over to the Chief of Training and Operations, AVM James Gwani, marking the release of the aircraft for deployment for training and operations roles. The landmark occasion also featured the commissioning of the 403 FTS Historical Gallery and Hall of Fame.
Also present at the event were other Branch Chiefs from Headquarters NAF as well as Commanders and Commandants of military units in Kano along with heads of security agencies in Kano and members of Management of the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport.

In the same way, the Nigerian Air Force with the help of Aero Vodochody reactivated in Nigeria 3 L-39ZA aircraft in 22 June, last year. At that time, the Czech Republic Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Marek Skolil was in attendance. He also recommended the NAF leverage on the historic lcordial relationship between Nigeria and Czech to procure the all-new L-39NG (next generation) aircraft which will be made available to Nigeria at cost.

In May this year, Aero Vodochody commenced its contract to upgrade the old analogue cockpit of Nigerias L-39ZA aircraft fleet with the GeneSYS Aerosystems avionics.

The system features a synthetic vision Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS), low-cost analog wing levelers, digital, three-axis systems with Flight Director and envelope protection, IDU-680 smart displays, ADAHRS (Air Data, Attitude, and Heading Reference System), and GPS receiver.

The 3D Synthetic Vision IDU EFIS, according to Genesys Aerosystems enhances safety, reduces pilot workload, increases flexibility, and lowers cost of of operations.
Nigeria purchased 24 L-39s in 1984-87, it wanted to procure additional 27 more but the Internal Monetary Fund vetoed the deal.

Ekene Lionel

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