The Nigerian Air Force in recent times have taken significant steps aimed at deepening research and development in the service. The first major step taken to enrich Nigerian Air Force Research & Capability was the establishment of the Air Force Research & Development Centre in 2015. This was aimed at pulling of the Nigerian Air Force’s post-graduate degree holders in the aerospace vehicle design and related fields, together to form the nucleus of the Nigerian Air Force research activities.
About 19 PhD and over 60 Masters Degree holders were given the mandate. The second step was the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with selected Nigerian universities, polytechnics and other research agencies.
The success achieved by the NAF Research & Development Centre has further led to the establishment in March 2018 of a separate centre, the Nigerian Air Force Central Avionics Overhaul and Calibration Centre in Kaduna, for research into avionics, aircraft electronics and instruments.
Another major step was the reinvigorate of the annual Nigerian Air Force inter-command research and development competition. The event is aimed at encouraging field units to showcase their RnD efforts to a wider audience, while also exposing them to efforts of other exhibitors.
As a result of these initiatives, the Nigerian Air Force has recorded quite a number of Research & Development feats since July 2015.
One of the major Research & Development breakthrough has been the production of two indigenous UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).
The TSAIGUMI Tactical UAV was developed by the Nigerian Air Force following the success of the prototype drone- GULMA.
The Tsaigumi was inducted into service by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on the 15 February 2018.
The Tsaigumi was built to provide theater ground forces with
Intelligence and Reconnaisance
Maritime and Pipeline Monitoring
Policing Operations, Disaster Management.
The Nigerian Air Force has also designed and produced a trainer UAV names AMEBO.
The Amebo is used for training Nigeria’s remotely piloted drone operators at the 401 Flying Training School, Kaduna.
Reactivation of the Communicator Control Unit of the F-7Ni fighter jet.
The engineering wing of the 101 Air Defence Group, Makurdi replaced the old unserviceable cathode ray tube of the F-7Ni fighter with a modern liquid crystal display, at the cost of N300,000, as against $200,000 USD, which is about N72 million, that would have been required to purchase the same unit from abroad.
Ordinarily, the CCU (Communication Control Unit ) of the F-7NI fighter costs about $40,000 USD, that’s N14 million, and would require a minimum of 10 months to deliver to the Nigerian Air Force. However, through the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the NAF engineers and technicians at the CACC, four faulty Communication Control Unit were repaired locally, in a record time of just one week, at the cost of only N400,000, thus saving the nation about N57.6 million.
In similar vein, some MDS (multifunction display system) of the Augusta helicopter were equally repaired in-house. A total of five Multifunction Display System were successfully repaired in house.The in-house repair of the MDS has saved the NAF the sum of N164 million.
In addition, engineers at the Central Avionics and Calibration Centre has successfully repairs the Electronics Horizontal Situation Indicator and Electronics Altitude Director Indicator for the ATR-42 Maritime Patrol Aircraft by building a mini test bench to test them, and consequently carry out complex component level repairs and replacing components which are found to be faulty.
The inhouse repair of the Electronics Horizontal Situation Indicator and Electronics Altitude Director Indicator has saved the nation a total of N21.3 million.
Another benefit of the Research & Development effort of the Nigerian Air Force is the design and manufacturing of a test bench for the Alpha jet’s anti-skid system.
One other feat achieved by the NAF in its Research & Development effort is the manufacture of heat shield protective cones.On the average, 40 of these protective cones are consumed in a week in the ongoing Counter Insurgency operations in the northeast.
The protective cones were being imported at a price of $1250 for one, implying an average expenditure of $50,000 on a weekly basis. The Nigerian Air Force is now producing the same quality of protective cone for $25. Implying an expenditure of N9,000 only a week.
The Nigerian Air Force designed and produced an unmanned ground vehicle following the unfortunate loss of a police sergeant who was in the process of defusing an improved explosive device in Kaduna.
The NAF designed and produced a more improved prototype known as UGV-2. These robots were built to replace humans in highly hazardous situations such as handling IED’s and bombs. Another military application is reconnaissance and target acquisitions.
Another feat is the design and production of 30.1mm rockets using locally sourced materials and propellants.
The 30.1mm rockets were successfully tested during the 2017 NAF day celebration in Markurdi.
Since then it has undergone several modifications to meet operational requirements, such as inclusion in the base defence architecture. The live warheads has been tested and found satisfactory in times of fragmentation and blast characteristics.
The ground base and vehicle mounted launcher for the 30.1mm rockets were also designed and constructed by NAF Research & Development Centre using locally sourced materials. The launchers were designed to pitch up and down to vary the launch elevation to meet the desired launch and range parameters. The pitching of the launcher was achieved by means of remote control operated from a safe distance.
Furthermore, the Air Force Research & Development Centre has reactivated the unserviceable mantra 155 rocket launchers of the Alpha jet at the 103 Strike Group, Yola.
Domestic Weaponization of Air Assets.
The project to weaponize the Alpha Jet with locally made rockets and guns cost less than $1500 USD. A Nigerian Air Force Research team executed the successful weaponization of the Alpha jet, which included the installation of the locally made gun.
Two pods containing two guns each. The gun was also installed on the Bell 452 helicopter.
The recently activated Machine Tools Workshop.