The Nigerian Air Force Special Forces Regiment (AFSF) is the ground component of the Nigerian Air Force. The AFSF was born out of need for base defence after Boko Haram fighters stormed an Air Force base, killed the few scattered personnel on the base and setting ablaze two fighter jets and two Mi-24 helicopter gunships.
Originally a base defence force, the AFSF has metamorphosed into a highly trained and well equipped fighting Force capable of independent combat operations.
Although information on the exact number of AFSF personnel is not available, the NAF is estimated to have anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 personnel going by its turn out rate of between 500 to 800 par batch.
These units are composed of highly trained, rapidly deployable airmen who are equipped with specialized weapons aircraft. These forces conduct special operations missions ranging from precision application of firepower, to infiltration, and regional peacekeeping.
The major aspect of AFSF is Special Tactics, the Nigerian Air Force’s special operations ground force. Similar in ability and employment to the Nigerian Army Special Forces and Nigerian Navy SBS Commandos.
Nigerian Air Force Special Tactics personnel are typically the first to enter combat and often find themselves deep behind enemy lines in demanding, austere conditions, usually with little or no support.
Upon his appointment in 2016, the Nigerian Air Force Service Chief Abubakar Sadique announced his intention in building one of the best trained and equipped Special Forces unit in the world. An Air Force Regiment with the capacity to fight under all types of terrains and weather conditions.
To develop this capacity the airforce contracted the Israeli company FOUR-TROOP, one up the best foreign military training organisation in the world.
Regiment personnel into the Nigerian Air Force Special Forces (AFSF) are trained in 3 batches of 500 men. The training is taking place at the NAF Regiment Training Centre in Kaduna.
Nigeria’s battlefield airmen carry out a variety of missions, which includes tactical assault, tactical reconnaissance, point defence, para-rescue, special operations etc.
They are thrust into a gruelling 9 week training course. The training program is rigorous because the battlefield is unforgiving.
The Air Force approach marries a stricter evaluation of candidates prior to basic training with a focus in mental resilience and physical strength before officially straying bootcamp.
Air Force Special Regimental training courses vary in length. Combat control or pararescue airmen for instance take more than a year to train up and push out to a unit.
Training Include combat diving, high altitude parachuting and surviving. This is not for the faint of hearts. The team’s bleed off the bulk of their vandidate for self elimination injuries and performance failures.
Special forces perform extraordinary deeds, and taking down the enemy requires special weapons. While the firepower carried by the AFSF may appear in many cases to be standard-issue-style weaponry, in the hands of these Isreali trained operators these weapons are deadly and capable tools. The listing below represents a small sampling of their weapons.
IWI Tavor TAR-21 Assault Rifle
The Isreali built Tavor TAR-21 is the adopted official rifle of the NAF Regiment. The Tavor is designed to maximize reliability, durability, simplicity of design, and ease of maintenance, particularly under adverse or battlefield conditions.
Mk23 (Mark 23) .45-cal. ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) from Heckler & Koch.
Augusta Westland (AW291) and ECR Reconnaisance Helicopter
The AFSF employs the use of utility helicopters for reconnaissance roles. The AFSF affix high calibre machine guns to the helicopters, providing aggressive combined armed reconnaissance and giving these helicopters the capability to enable dominant maneuver for the joint air-ground maneuver force by providing aggressive combined armed reconnaissance.
ZSU-23-4 ” Shilka” quad-barrelled radar guided suto-cannon
ZSU-23-2 40mm Cannon
MI-17Sh Multirole Helicopter
40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher
Standard Infantry Gear
Their footprint dots actors Nigeria and West Africa, where They are sent to perform combat missions, assault zone and airfield reconnaissance and even close air support do other Special operations forces. And that high operation tempo isn’t going away anytime soon.
Just yesterday (October 28, 2018 ) the Nigerian Air Force deployed Special Forces troops to the northeast to reinforce base security, and also fight alongside Nigerian troops already in ground as there has been an upsurge in Boko Haram atacks of late.
The Nigerian Air Force now have an organisation on par with the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Navy SBS Commandos. This is because the Air Force selecting process that places premium on those with physical and mental grit, who are bred with resilience and thrive in a challenging environment.