Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) – Rear Admiral (R/Adm) Issah Adam Yakubu, the Ghana Navy (GN) in line with his vision has specially trained thirteen (13) of its personnel to be nucleus of its Aviation Wing, in unmanned aerial systems technologies, to enhance total surveillance of Ghana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and has obtained two new Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV).
The Navy Commander received the ZMO-120 UAVs (drones) from OMNICAD – the defence and technology subsidiary of the OMNI Group, an unmanned aerial systems solution provider – at the closing ceremony of 8-weeks training for the GN Aviation Wing, at the Navy Headquarters, Burma Camp, Accra, on Thursday, 24th March, 2022.
The CNS, whose vision is to seek the welfare of Ghana Navy personnel and to modernize the naval fleet, expressed pleasure at the involvement of corporate Ghana in achieving set objectives, stating that there are advantages that such collaborations have for the country and the business community in particular.
Admiral Yakubu urged the newly created Aviation Wing, who would be in charge of the efficient, vertical take-off and landing, easy-to-operate fixed-wing drones, to develop projects beyond building prototypes, to applying acquired knowledge in all other naval systems and applications.
The CNS stated that, the drones would greatly enhance maritime domain awareness, since they offer a unique range of features most notably, reach, aerial maritime pictures and high-risk mission acceptance, which are normally performed by manned aircraft at a very high cost.
The Director, Naval Training – Captain (Capt) (GN) Dennis Kofi Andorfo Eghan in his welcome address stated that , OMINICAD had been contracted by the Ghana Boundary Commission, to procure UAVs for their operations, hence, the commission approached Ghana Navy to avail personnel to operate the drones when purchased, to assist the commission perform its responsibility of managing Ghana’s internal and international boundaries, particularly along the maritime boundaries.
Chief of Naval Staff who is already operating the GN’s strategic priorities in the proposed direction – the acquisition of drones to enhance maritime operations to achieve total surveillance coverage of Ghana’s EEZ – embraced the Boundary Commission’s offer.
The maiden Drone Operators and Maintenance Course, by Soko Aerial and Robotics Centre, OMINICAD, offered to sponsor the training of the personnel who were assembled by the GN on 7th February 2022, and trained at the Army Signal Training School, and at the end of the course, the firm donated two drones to the Navy and one to Soko Aerial, to aid in future training of the Aviation Wing.
Capt (GN) Eghan also revealed that the training was phased to provide separate lessons to the operators and the technicians and thereafter the two groups fused together for the final phase.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), OMNICAD – Mr. Michael Zormelo said the UAVs have a maximum endurance of 60 minutes and can travel up to 40 kilometers, at a maximum speed of 110 kilometers per hour.
Mr. Zormelo announced to support 2 personnel of GN to undergo training in Hydrography overseas in a bid to support capacity building, to ensure the availability of requisite skills and reduce the dependence on expatriate expertise for such services, to support maritime, oil and gas activities, and the government’s drive to secure Ghana’s waterbodies.
Dignitaries present at the ceremony included the Director, Communications, GAF – Colonel Azera, Senior Officers of GN and the CEO, Soko Aerial Academy – Mr. Michael Ashitey.