Nigerian Air Force gets first female combatant pilots

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Nigerian Air Force has commissioned two females, Kafayat Sanni and Tolulope Arotile, as the first female combatant pilot and first female helicopter pilot, respectively.

The two flying officers just completed their training courses in the US and South Africa. They were among the 13 officers decorated at a ceremony on Tuesday in Abuja.

Speaking at the event, Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff, said the development marked a major milestone in the 55-year history of the force.

He said, “I am particularly happy because out of the 13 pilots to be winged are two female regular combatant officers.

“They are not only female officers but outstanding aviators. While one of the two pilots is the first female fighter pilot in the 55 years history of the NAF, the second one is the first female combat helicopter pilot.

“The first female fighter pilot trained at the United States Air Force following an excellent performance during her initial flying training course at 401 Flying Training School in Kaduna.

“While the second graduated from Starlite International Training Academy. They both performed excellently well during their training.”

He said by their records, they have trained a total of 67 instructor pilots since 2015.

He also said with the winging of the new pilots, the air force would have winged a total of 101 pilots within the same period.

“Currently, we have 61 pilots undergoing basic flying training, while 50 are undergoing various forms of advanced flying training courses both locally and abroad.

“As such we are highly delighted to see the rewards of our collective efforts.

“I am confident that the NAF and indeed Nigeria will soon be reaping the benefits that these pilots would undoubtedly add to our operations.”

At the ceremony, Grace Garba, who became the first female air warrant officer (AWO), was also decorated with her new rank.

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