Grootfontein — President Hifikepunye Pohamba last Friday commissioned a N$20-million project to improve lighting for night-time flights at the Grootfontein military air base, which was completed on schedule recently.
Pohamba commissioned the Air Force Runway Lights Project last week Friday at the Namibian Air Force headquarters at Grootfontein.
The commissioning of the new lighting system on the 3,5-kilometer runway coincided with the 10 anniversary of the Namibian Air Force.
According to the Director of Education in the Ministry of Defence, Dr Vincent Mwange, there was an urgent need to replace the runway's outdated old lighting system, because it was not functioning well.
"The project was conceived during the time when the Namibian Defence Force was deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to the need for night-time flights from and to the DRC," Mwange revealed.
The old lighting system, which had about 200 lights, was replaced with a new system that comprises of 720 lights, underground cables of 105 kilometres in length and 15 manholes for servicing and maintenance purposes.
"A system for repelling birds and the Non-Direction Beacon was also developed to improve flight safety and provide navigation as well as the landing of aircraft during bad weather," said the director.
With the envisaged Instrument Landing System in the pipeline, once completed, the status of the airport at the base will be improved significantly.
In his address, President Pohamba vowed that government under his leadership would strive to provide all the resources needed by the NDF's three branches (air force, navy, army) to ensure peace and stability.
"We believe that peace and stability are the prerequisites for economic development and social progress in our country. Economic development and social progress cannot take place in an atmosphere of conflict and war," said Pohamba.
According to the President, Namibia has committed troops and other personnel to peacekeeping operations around the world.
"Namibia joined other African countries at the recent African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to express serious concern about the armed conflicts and unconstitutional change of governments on the African continent," he said.
The instability and insecurity caused by these conflicts have resulted in hardships for millions of people and undermine social and economic development, said Pohamba.
"We will continue to call for the peaceful resolution of these conflict situations in order to avoid unnecessary human suffering and the avoidable loss of life," he said.
The much-fancied Namibian Air Force (NAF) is considered by many to be on the right track towards developing the capabilities required to defend the country's vast airspace.
In its quest to enhance national security, the NAF Commander Air-Vice Marshal Martin Pinehas said that his force has made considerable progress during its 10-year existence.
"The testimony to this claim is the high standard of professionalism that the air force displays which has earned it the respect of regional air forces and beyond," Pinehas claimed.
Information sourced by New Era suggest that the airport could claim the title of 'best airport in the country' in terms of runway length and enabling supportive systems.
Also present during the 10th anniversary celebration of the NAF at Grootfontein was the Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma.
The tender for the lighting project was awarded to Bicon Namibia, which subcontracted the ADB Company. Construction work commenced in August 2010 and was completed in May 2012.