To effectively address the security situation in the Niger Delta region, the Nigerian Airforce has upgraded its Forwarding Operating Base in Calabar to the 207 Special Mobility Group.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar stated this in Calabar while commissioning single officers’ quarters erected for the officers that would man the unit.
According to the Chief of Air Staff, “in my calculation, for the overall national security and defence, I decided that the Nigerian Airforce needed to pay more attention to the Niger Delta region – the reason is simple, the Niger Delta Region is the goose that lays the golden egg and is deserving of a more pronounced presence of NAF.”
Air Marshal Umar who was represented by Air Vice Marshal Emmanuel Edem, said the Mobility Unit has headquarters in Yenagoa and that the Airforce Base in Calabar was upgraded to a Mobility Unit and fitted with the robust Mi-17 Russian helicopter to ensure that the aerial security of the region is adequately maintained.
“The nature of the Special Mobility Group is such that it will be capable of carrying out special complex missions like troop insertion and extraction from difficult terrain, medium helicopter transport, search and rescue operations, medical evacuation, land and maritime surveillance,” he said.
He said it is in anticipation of the upsurge in personnel that it became necessary for the Airforce to provide adequate accommodation for them, adding that the accommodation is designed for single officers who only “move from base to base in their cars carrying only briefcases.
“The concept provides for a conducive living accommodation tastefully furnished not only for single officers but for other officers that may be in transit.”
The building, Air Marshal Umar said, was constructed through direct labour. This, he said, is a deliberate effort to cut down on costs that would have been “prohibitive if the project was contracted out “.
Speaking earlier, Air Commodore A. Ogunjobi, the Commander of the 207 Mobility Group said the establishment of the Mobility Unit in the state is in line with the overall national security imperatives.
“Besides being a state in our southern flank, Cross River State also provides a strategic sea passage into neighbouring Cameroon as well as harbouring an ecosystem with great tourism potential, rightly therefore, the state deserves good NAF presence,” he said.
Air Commodore Ogunjobi said the plot of land on which the single officers’ accommodation is built was given to the Airforce by the Ekorinim community over a decade ago for the development of a MESS but “successive Chief of Air Staff for various reasons were unable to initiate the development but the place has today been put to good use by the present Chief of Air Staff.”
Early in the month of May during the week of activities dedicated to the commemoration of the NAF’s 47th anniversary, the Commander of the 207 Special Mobility Group had indicated that the Group are expecting an initial delivery of six helicopters, with additional deliveries of airframes expected with the passage of time.
It took the visit of the Chief of the Air Staff to the 207 Special Mobility Group during the month of June 2011 for clear indications to the effect that the expected airframes are Mi-17 helicopters, to emerge. At the time of filing this report, the total number of Mi-17 helicopters being expected by the Nigerian Airforce remains unclear .
(with additional reports from PM NEWS NIGERIA and NATION newspapers)