Nigeria police force adds drone pilots

Ahead of next year’s elections, the Nigerian police force has ramped up aerial support for its officers on the ground, with the addition of more pilots for both manned and unmanned aerial operations.

In a statement, the police said Inspector General Usman Baba gave the greenlight for the establishment of a drone unit in the force, which recently completed training at the same time as pilots for the police’s air wing. This, the police say, was be done in part to ensure that the 2023 elections proceed with little incident.

Voters in Africa’s most populous nation will go to the polls on February 25 next year to choose a new president following the expiry of incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari’s term.

Other federal elections, including elections to the House of Representatives and the Senate, will also be held on the same date while state elections will be held on the 11th of March.

“As part of the build up towards ensuring concrete security arrangements for the nation, particularly as the 2023 General Elections approach, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, has approved the training of the first batch of Police Airwing Aircraft Maintenance Engineers comprising seventeen officers, whose training is expected to improve the technical expertise of the Aircraft Maintenance Unit of the Police Airwing and prevent operational mishaps during aerial surveillance operations,” the police said in a statement.

“Similarly, the IGP has approved the training of more pilots on Cessna Citation, the training and maintenance of a fully operational Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) squad, training of more engineers on both fixed wing and rotary wing, as well as training for other auxiliary aviation staff to streamline operational inadequacies, improve human resourcefulness and ensure enhanced operational efficiency and cohesive operations.

“The trainings, which were run simultaneously, in partnership with foreign experts, came to an end on Friday 30th September, 2022, with presentation of certificates of participation to the trainees by the Inspector-General of Police at the FHQ, Abuja.”

Operating under the police’s Air wing, drones have been added as part of the police inventory for some time now, with five more drones being added in March this year.

Among the acquisitions was the ALTI Transition drone, which can cover up to 150km in a single flight, has an endurance of up to 14 hours.

The police also purchased the Elistair Orion fixed-wing aircraft, capable of covering up to 92m altitude with high endurance of up to 50 hours and other sensitive and forensic-based features.

Deployed to areas prone to high-security breaches, the drones will assist the Police in monitoring active crime scenes, coordinating response operations, and providing aerial support to responding officers.


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