Each year thousands of candidates apply for a coveted place on the recruitment scheme of the Nigeria Airforce. Competition is fierce and if you are thinking of making an application, you will need to know the airforce inside out and from top to bottom. Check out our list below of the 10 facts that every applicant to the Nigeria Airforce should know.
The plan to set up a Nigeria Airforce was first conceived in 1961 following Nigeria’s participation in peacekeeping operations in Tanzania and Congo. During these peacekeeping operations, the Nigerian army units had to be airlifted in and out of the battlefield by foreign aircraft. Shortly following the peacekeeping operations, the government in Lagos realised the need for an airforce and the first batch of cadets were enlisted in 1962 to train with the Ethiopian Airforce.
The Nigeria Airforce has been heavily influenced by its British counterpart, the Royal Air Force (RAF). The badge of Nigeria’s Airforce was modelled on the RAF badge and features the same outstretched eagle. Likewise, the rank system used in Nigeria’s airforce was modeled on the RAF system and titles such as flight lieutenant, squadron leader and wing commander are common to both air forces.
The Nigeria Airforce’s main attack force is a fleet of 15 Chengdu F-7 fighter jets made by China which Nigeria purchased for an estimated quarter of a million US dollars in 2005. These Chengdu F-7 fighter jets replaced the existing fleet of MiG 21 aircraft which had been in active service since the 1970s.
History was made on 9 December 2011 when Blessing Liman became the first female fighter pilot in the Nigeria Airforce. Liman’s appointment came off the back of a directive from President Goodluck Jonathan that the Nigerian military should aim to include more women within its ranks. Liman, along with the other cadets who received their wings at the same time, underwent a rigorous training programme which cost billions of Naira and involved training abroad in countries including the UK, US and Greece.
One of the most heart breaking moments in the history of the Nigeria Airforce came on 26 September 1992 when a Lockheed C-130H Hercules (serial number 911) crashed following take off from Lagos. Three of the engines failed and 158 people on board were killed including several civilians from Ghana and Uganda.
There was much confusion in September 2014 when a Nigeria Airforce fighter jet went missing in Adamawa State and was not found. Shortly afterwards a video was released by Boko Haram in which a man appears to kneel besides a Boko Haram fighter and states in English that he is the missing pilot. The man is then brutally beheaded. The Nigerian Airforce then went on to deny that the man in the video was the missing pilot. Until today, the fate of the missing fighter jet and its crew are still unknown.
The Nigeria Airforce has been praised widely for its participation in various peacekeeping missions around the world including in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan and most recently in Mali.
Colonel Gerhard Gahtz was the first Chief of Air Staff of the Nigeria Airforce and (as the name would suggest…) was not Nigerian but rather German. Kahtz was sent to Nigeria as part of an agreement struck between Nigeria and Germany to build the country’s airforce from scratch in 1963. Believe it or not but Gahtz was a Luftwaffe pilot during the Second World War and was even decorated with the Iron Cross for his devotion and courage to duty.
The chief of the Nigeria Airforce, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, announced during celebrations for the 50 year anniversary of the Nigeria Airforce in April 2014 that Nigeria is looking to purchase additional fighter jets. However, it remains to be seen which fighter jets will be purchased and when. Watch this space.
If you want to apply for a position as an airman or airwoman in the Nigeria Airforce, you will have to meet the strict requirements imposed on candidates. During the 2014 recruitment exercise, the Nigeria Airforce made clear that candidates over the age of 24 would not be accepted. Even more striking was that male applicants and female applicants were required to be no less than 1.68 meters and 1.65 meters tall respectively. In other words, shorties need not apply!
Did you know? The Nigeria Airforce has around ten thousand personnel and two hundred and sixty airplanes in total.