By Lawrence Audu
In the aftermath of the recent crash of a Nigerian Air Force MI-35P attack helicopter in Port Harcourt, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, made a significant visit to the crash site to address the situation and provide encouragement to the personnel of the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG).
In a statement, the Director of Public Relations and Information Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet said the visit was not only a show of support but also an opportunity to emphasize the importance of resilience and improved safety measures in the face of escalating security threats.
Addressing the personnel of 115 SOG, Air Marshal Abubakar urged them to view air accidents or mishaps as a catalyst for seeking enhanced safety management measures while remaining steadfast in addressing the myriad security threats facing the nation. He stressed, “The realization of these aspirations is hinged on our ability to combat all forms of criminality that threaten our peace and stability.”
Acknowledging the inherent risks in military aviation, especially amidst the intensified flying activities due to current security challenges, he emphasized the need to minimize risk factors as reasonably practicable. “As we continue to fly intensively, incidents are bound to occur,” he stated, highlighting the importance of ensuring the safety of flying operations.
Air Marshal Abubakar also commended the crew for their professional handling of the emergency situation, noting that their actions were commendable and played a decisive role in mitigating damage to public property and loss of lives. He further praised the 115 SOG for their gallantry and fighting spirit, emphasizing the game-changing impact of the MI-35P helicopters on the battlefield. He highlighted their role in instilling fear in the hearts of terrorists and criminals while boosting the morale of surface forces.
The Chief of Air Staff’s visit and his words of encouragement underscore the Nigerian Air Force’s commitment to addressing challenges while ensuring the safety and effectiveness of its operations. As investigations into the helicopter crash continue, the Nigerian Air Force remains resolute in its mission to safeguard the nation and counter threats to its peace and stability.
In conveying President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s gratitude for their sacrifices, Air Marshal Abubakar guaranteed the personnel of their welfare and other necessities to enable them to perform their duties effectively. He also communicated that he had ordered the immediate initiation of the accident investigation “to understand precisely what transpired and prevent similar incidents in the future.”
Previously, the Chief of Air Staff had visited the 5 crew members of the unfortunate aircraft and instructed the Medical Centre Commander to ensure that they received the highest level of care needed.