Missing Jet May Have Crashed, Two Pilots’ Whereabouts Unknown – Nigerian Air Force
Nigerian Air Force has said the Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475) that went off the radar days ago may have crashed at an unknown location.
The jet, which had two pilots on board, has lost contact with radar in Borno State, while on interdiction mission in support of ground troops and NAF declared it missing on March 31.
In latest development, Air Force in a statement on Friday gave the names of the pilots as Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele, adding that their whereabouts remain unknown.
The statement was signed by Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet and titled ‘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 the 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.
The missing jet comes amidst fears that it might have been captured or shot down by the Boko Haram terrorists – who are now being aided by a more deadly faction, the Islamic State West African Province fighters.
The Alpha Jet, a light attack jet and advanced jet trainer aircraft, has played a significant role in Nigeria’s counter-insurgency campaign in the North-East theatre of operation.
It was acquired by NAF in 2014 from the United States of America air force.
In February 2021, a NAF Beechcraft King Air 350i Surveillance Aircraft crashed in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The outcome of NAF’s investigations into the crash had yet to be made public.