In furtherance of it’s air assault against armed bandits camps and hideouts in the North West of the country, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has made history with the conduct of an operational Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission by an all-female crew. The mission, which was conducted on 28 May 2020 using the NAF Beechcraft KingAir ISR aircraft, had Flying Officers Oluwabunmi Ijelu and Genevieve Nwaogwugwu as Captain and Co-Pilot, respectively, with Sergeant Njoku Patience as the Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) mission operator and Lance Corporal Shawulu Godiya as the on-board technician. Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director, NAF Public Relations and Information disclosed in a statement that,
“It is noteworthy that Flying Officer Ijelu is the first female officer to become a Captain on a NAF aircraft.
He continued, “The aircraft was also marshaled by a female Marshaller, Aircraftwoman David Precious. ‘The mission, which was preceded by the customary pre-flight briefing, originated from the 307 Executive Airlift Group (307 EAG), at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport and covered selected areas of interest in Niger State and its environs, where intelligence that would support NAF air interdiction missions as well as the operations of ground forces was gathered.
“The Commander 307 EAG, Air Commodore Francis Edosa, while welcoming the all-female crew from the mission, applauded them for displaying a high level of professionalism. “He remarked that the feat was only made possible as a result of the commitment of Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, to providing a level playing field for all personnel, whether male or female, to thrive and realize their dreams and aspirations in service to the Nation. “This, he said, had translated into tangible positive results. He therefore thanked the CAS for giving the female personnel the opportunity to prove their worth in hitherto male-dominated specialties in the NAF.
“Within the past 4 and half years of the current NAF leadership, there has been a surge in the involvement of female personnel in areas that were previously the preserve of men. ‘Five female pilots have been winged within the period, bringing the total number of female pilots in the NAF to 7. ‘Many other female officers and airwomen are also excelling in their various fields of specialization including Regiment and Special Forces, Aircraft/Armament Engineers and Technicians as well as Air Traffic Controllers, amongst others. “The NAF’s objective in this regard is to maximize all of the potentials of Nigeria’s vast human resource pool, male and female, to ensure the effective, efficient and timely employment of Air Power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.”