The Nigeria Air Force has waded into the controversy over whether President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the same drone that his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan commissioned several years ago.
The Air Force said the two leaders commissioned different drones.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, AVM Olatokunbo Adesanya, made the clarification in a statement issued on Friday.
He said what President Buhari commissioned was the Air Force’s operational unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) “Tsaigumi”, which is more advanced than its earlier produced Amebo and Gulma UAV prototypes. Jonathan commissioned Gulma.
Adesanya said that it has become necessary to make this clarification, due to certain misconceptions that followed the announcement of the induction of Tsaigumi.
” To set the records straight, while Gulma UAV is indeed the first indigenous UAV, the newly inducted Tsaigumi UAV is the first indigenous operational UAV.
” Both UAV types are the outcomes of research and development efforts of a team of NAF Aerospace engineers.
” NAF’s foray into UAV development commenced in 2008, when its students officers who were undergoing postgraduates studies in aerospace engineering programmes at Cranfield University, UK, chose UAV development as their research project,” he said.
He said that the student officers produced the Amebo UAV as part of thier project, adding that it had neither autopilot nor intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
He said that Gulma was an experimental UAV, which was developed in 2013, as a technological demonstrator used to gather performance data on UAV systems.
” The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, directed the NAF’s R and D (research and development ) team to build an operational UAV, code named Tsaigumi to be used in the North east and other theatres of operation in Nigeria,” Adesanya said.
He said that the data gathered from Gulma prototype was plied in the design of operational UAV, Tsaigumi, which was inducted on Feb.15.
Tsiaguma was unveiled and inducted by President Muhammadu Buhari on Feb.15 in Kadunna.
The spokesman of the force further said that NAF is currently working on the “Ichoku” which when completed would be the first indigenous unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV)