The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft that went off the radar in Borno State might have crashed, authorities said on Friday.
The aircraft marked – NAF475 – had two crew members on board when it went missing on Wednesday in Borno State.
Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, disclosed this in a statement while giving an update on the incident.
While the cause of the crash and the whereabouts of the crew members who are NAF personnel remain unknown, the pilots are identified as Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.
According to Gabkwet, NAF surveillance aircraft and Special Forces, as well as Nigerian Army troops on ground are conducting extensive search and rescue efforts.
He stated that the Force remained hopeful that the crew would be found and rescued as it does not rule out anything regarding the incident.
Read the full statement below:
UPDATE ON MISSING NAF ALPHA JET AIRCRAFT
Intelligence report gathered by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) indicates that the Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475) that went off the radar with 2 crew members on board on 31 March 2021 might have crashed.
The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the 2 pilots remain unknown. The pilots are Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.
Extensive search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on ground.
At this point, the NAF is not ruling out anything regarding the incident. It however remains hopeful that the crew would soon be found and rescued.
Director of Public Relations and Information
How It Happened
Channels Television had reported on Thursday that the NAF jet went missing after it lost contact with radar while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops fighting insurgency in the state.
The mission was said to be part of the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North East where insurgents have carried out series of attacks, killing thousands and displacing millions of civilians in over 10 years.
A day after the incident, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, visited Borno where he was briefed on ongoing search and rescue efforts in connection with the missing aircraft.
He appealed to NAF pilots, engineers, and technicians on the ground to remain undeterred and resolute in their commitment to ensuring that peace was returned to the North East.
On February 21, the Nigerian Air Force lost seven of its personnel and one of its aircraft to a crash in Abuja.
The affected aircraft – Beechcraft KingAir B350i – crashed at Bassa village – just a few yards off the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja.
While en route to Minna, the Niger State capital, the crew reported an engine failure and was on its way back to the airport before the aircraft crashed.
The late personnel were buried at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.