Attrition: Thieves Give Back To Fight Islamic Terrorism

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April 8, 2012: The Nigerian Air Force recently refurbished two of its seven Super Puma helicopters so that they could put them back into service. The air force has 240 aircraft and helicopters but only about a third of them can fly. The Nigerians are facing an outbreak of Islamic terrorism and need more operational helicopters, fast. Hiring contractors to come in and refurbish helicopters they already have gets them flyable aircraft faster than buying new ones. The Super Puma is an 8.6 ton helicopter that can carry 19 people (or four tons of cargo) and a crew of two.

Normally, there are not enough maintenance personnel in the Nigerian Air Force. There's also not enough money for fuel and spare parts. As a result, most aircraft are not flyable. The money problems are linked to corruption. Money for maintenance, parts, and fuel tends to get stolen by senior officers. This is all done in a "business as usual" manner so often encountered in Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world where air forces have lots of aircraft but few that can fly. For example, the Nigerian Super Pumas were purchased in 1988 and kept flying until 1997 because they were used for peacekeeping missions (where Western nations pick up the tab, and then some, but only if the aircraft are flyable). The Super Pumas have been sitting on the ground since 1997.

 


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