The Nigerian Air Force is the air arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces. With a total of about 10,000 personnel, it is one of the largest in Africa.
The Air Force Headquarters comprises nine staff branches in charge of policy formulation. These nine staff branches are Policy and Plans, Training and Operations, Aircraft Engineering, Logistics and Communications, Administration, Standards and Evaluations, Air Secretary, Accounts and Budgets and Madical Services.
It is made up of five commands namely: Tactical Air Command in Makurdi, Special Operations Command in Bauchi, Mobility Command in Yenagoa, Training Command in Kaduna and Logistics Command in Lagos.
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It also has some formations such as Nigerian Air Force Holdings Company, Nigerian Air Force Post-service Housing Development Limited, Nigerian Air Force Investment Limited, and Nigerian Air Force Properties Limited.
The Nigerian Air Force was founded in 1964 with the passage of the Air Force Act in 1964 by the National Assembly with the following mandates:
1. To fully compliment the military defence system of the Nigerian Armed Forces both in the air and on the ground.
2. To ensure prompt mobility of personnel of the armed forces when needed
3. To closely support the ground and sea borne military operations in all phases and ensure the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
4. To give Nigeria the prestige of an independent Air Force which is greatly important in international affairs.
The creation of the force followed several peace keeping operations in Congo, Tanzania and other countries during which aircrafts from other countries’ Air Force were used to transport Nigerian officers and men to and from the peace keeping operations.
This led to the first move to establish the Nigerian Air Force in 1961. Early in 1962, the government agreed to establish the Nigerian Air Force, although no practical steps were taken to bring it to pass.
Training of the first batch of cadets for the force then commenced in June 1962 with the Ethiopian Air Force. Another batch of 16 cadets enlisted in 1963 to train with the Royal Canadian Air Force and 6 were sent to train with the Indian Air Force.
While this was going on, efforts were being made by the Nigerian Government to commence local training of its personnel and the German Air Force agreed to help train personnel in Nigeria. The Air Force in its infancy was faced with the Civil War which ended in 1970.
Thereafter, the government tried to re-organize the force by procuring more aircrafts and training more personnel in many more fields in the Force.
The re-organization got to its peak with the promulgation of the Armed Forces Amendment Decree on 23rd August 1984. This promulgation provided additional functions to the Nigerian Air Force which include:
1. To enforce and facilitate the enforcement of international laws, conventions. Practices and customs ascribed and approved by Nigeria in relation to aerial or space activities in the Nigerian airspace.
2. To coordinate and enforce all national or international laws acceded or ascribed to by Nigeria.
3. To de-lineate, demarcate and coordinate all aerial surveys and security zones of the Nigerian airspace.
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Ranks And Their Symbols
The Nigerian Air Force has two cadres of personnel namely commissioned comprising 11 ranks and 9 non-commissioned ranks.
All the ranks originated from the royal Air Force in Britain and are still used by British colony countries especially the Common Wealth Nations.
They are also used to interpret ranks in the Air Forces of countries where English is not the official language. The following are the ranks of the Nigeria Air Force with their symbols in descending order of seniority.
Ranks in Commissioned Cadre:
1. Marshal of the Air Force
Is a five-star rank. It is the most senior rank in the Nigerian Air Force which has never been attained by any officer.
It is the only rank that has a symbol completely different from any other rank. It is equivalent to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet in the Navy and Field Marshal in the Army.
2. Air Chief Marshal (Air Chf Mshl or ACM)
Is a four-star rank and the second highest rank in the Nigerian and other Air Forces in the world. The rank of Air Chief Marshal have been attained by Air Chief Marshal Peterin and immediate past Chief of Defence Staff Allex Barde. Both of them were former Chiefs of Defence Staff. It is equivalent to Admiral in the Navy and General in the Army.
3. Air Marshal (AM)
This is a three-star Air Force rank. It is the highest rank ever attained in the countries Air Force so all past Chiefs of Air Staff and the present have this rank or lower as the highest. It is equivalent to the rank of Vice Admiral in the Navy and Lieutenant General in the Army.
4. Air Vice Marshal (AVM)
This is a two-star rank of the Air Force next to the Air Marshal rank. It is equivalent to the rank of Rear Admiral in the Navy and Major General in the Army.
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5. Air Commodore (Air Cdre)
This is a one-star rank and the most junior General rank of the Air Force next to Air Vice Marshal. It is equivalent to the rank of Commodore in the Navy and Brigadier General in the Army.
6. Group Captain
This is a senior commissioned rank next to Air Commodore. It is equivalent to the rank of Captain in the Navy and Colonel in the Army. It is equivalent to the rank of Captain in the Navy and Colonel in the Army.
7. Wing Commander (Wg Cdr)
Is the rank next to the Group Captain. It is equivalent to Commander in the Navy and Lieutenant Colonel in the Army.
8. Squadron Leader
I the rank next to Wing Commander. It is equivalent to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Navy and Major in the Army.
9. Flight Lieutenat (Flt Lt)
This is the is a Junior commissioned officer rank of the Air Force. Equivalent to Lieutenant in the Navy and Captain in the Army.
10. Flying Officer (Fg Off)
This is a junior commissioned rank. It is the rank attained by Direct Short Service DSSC officers on commissioning. Equivalent to Sub-lieutenant in the Navy and Lieutenant in the Army.
11. Pilot Officer (Pl Off)
This is the most junior commissioned officer rank. It is also the rank attained by newly commissioned regular cadets upon commissioning. Equivalent to Midshipman in the Navy and Second Lieutenant in the Army.
In descending order of seniority
1. Air Warrant Officer. Same as Navy Warrant Officer and Army Warrant Officer
2. Master Warrant Officer. Same as in Navy and Army
3. Warrant Officer. Same as in Navy and Army
4. Pilot Sergeant. Same as Petty Officer in the Navy and Staff Sergeant in the Army.
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5. Sergeant: Same as Leading Seaman in the Navy and Sergeant in the Army.
6. Corporal: Same as Able Seaman in the Navy and Corporal in the Army.
7. Lance Corporal. Same as Seaman in the Navy and Lance Corporal in the Army.
8. Air Craftman/Woman. Same as Ordinary Seaman in the Navy and Private in the Army.
9. Same as Trainee in the Navy and Recruit in the Army.
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