Nigerian government to refurbish three grounded Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft
The Nigerian government to refurbish three grounded Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft. By Oscar Nkala.
The Nigerian government has resolved to refurbish and re-commission three grounded Dornier DO-228 surveillance aircraft of the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) which have been stripped of some of the avionics and camera systems over the past few years.
The aircraft were configured for mission patrols and equipped with the on-board stabilised long range observation system and aerial cameras.
They were acquired from India in 2005 to perform border patrol duties, but never flew as they were grounded soon after delivery despite being certified fit for flying and boasting of some of the best-trained crews in the country's defence aviation history.
Speaking to reporters after conducting an inspection of the aircraft at the NIS Air Patrol Base in Kaduna recently, Interior minister Retired Lietenant-General Abdulrahman Dambazau said although government previously considered replacing the aircraft with new acquisitions, it had finally opted to refurbish and re-deployed the existing assets.
"We are looking at all possible ways to upgrade these aircraft before the end of the year. We cannot effectively secure our expansive and porous borders which spans over 4,500 kilometres without the use of these aircraft," said Lt.Gen Dambazau.
The aircraft will be refurbished locally with upgrades that include a re-installation of night-vision capability to enable night patrols as well as new area mapping and surveillance systems.
Apart from their primary border security patrol duties, the aircraft will also be deployed to fight against cross-border crimes such as maritime piracy, transnational terrorism, the drugs trade and human trafficking.
In preparation for revamped border security patrols, the minister said NIS has also started re-training its pilots, engineers, air traffic control staff and border patrol officers in line with international best practices.