Niger Delta: Air Force to deploy drones to protect oil facilities

In line with combatting insecurities in the Niger Delta region, the Nigerian Air Force has said it would deploy its recently inducted drones or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to help protect oil and gas pipelines, as well as oil installations in the creeks of Niger Delta.

In a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal, Olatokunbo Adesanya, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, noted that the operation was  to ensure that the maritime domain is safe for social and economic activities by preventing oil theft, pipe vandalism, militancy, kidnapping and other forms of economic disruption.

Abubakar was quoted as saying this while playing host to the Managing Director and Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor at the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters recently, Vanguard reported.

The CAS confirmed that over the years, the Nigerian Air Force has been actively involved in combating all manners of economic sabotage, thereby ensuring protection of national assets and at the same time, promoting general safety of the maritime environment. In view of this, NAF inducted an operational drone named “Tsagumi”.

He added that the Tsagumi could also be used to police operations, manage disasters, convoy protection, maritime patrol, monitor pipeline and power line as well as map and border patrol duties.

Vanguard reported that the newly inducted UAV has day and night capability, an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours and a mission radius of 100km.

The CAS further chipped that the NAF was ready to partner with Shell Companies in Nigeria to produce more of the TSAGUMI UAV, an option that will help eliminate the cost of importing drones from other countries. He disclosed that this act will help develop and promote local content as well as save more foreign exchange for the country.

Abubakar said, “Consequently, the Service will be willing to send experts to Shell to make necessary presentation on the capabilities of the Tsaigumi UAV and explore mutually beneficial ways to better secure Shell facilities while further developing the NAF’s UAV capability.”

In his remarks, Okunbor thanked the NAF for its continuous support, noting that the deployment of UAVs in the region would indeed further help to secure oil facilities and other crucial economic assets.

It would be recalled that the NAF recently launched its Operation Thunder Strike against Boko Haram.