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The idea of establishing an air force for Nigeria was first mooted in 1961 following the nation’s participation in peace-keeping operations in Congo and Tanganyika (now Tanzania). During these peace-keeping operations, foreign air forces aircraft were employed to airlift the Nigerian Army Regiment to and from the theatres of operation. The Nigerian Government at the time, no doubt, recognized the urgent need to establish an air force actively supported by modern facilities to provide full complement of forces to enhance the nation’s military posture. Early in 1962, the Government agreed in principle that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) be established.
The Nigerian Parliament, therefore, approved the establishment of the NAF and recruitment of cadets commenced in June 1962. Consequently, the NAF was officially established by a statutory Act of Parliament in April 1964 to serve four main purposes namely:
- To achieve a full complement of the military defence system of the Federal Republic of Nigeria both in the air and on the ground.
- To ensure a fast versatile mobility of the Armed Forces.
- To provide close support for the ground-based and sea borne forces in all phases of operations and to ensure the territorial integrity of a united Nigeria.
- To give the country the deserved prestige that is invaluable in international matters.
It was in 1962 that the drive for the required manpower for the planned air force started. Simultaneous with this development, Government was in dialogue with some friendly nations on the possibility of training Nigerian Air Force personnel in various specialist fields.