The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has finally confirmed the crash of an Alpha jet that occurred on Sunday, 18 July.
NAF’s Director of Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, issued a statement earlier today, confirming the crash, and the survival of the aircraft’s lone pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo.
TheFact Nigeria learnt that reports emerged on Sunday evening that a jet which left the NAF Base in Yola, the Adamawa State capital for an anti-banditry operation, crashed in a village in Kaduna. The NAF, however, through Gabkwet, denied the reports.
According to the statement, “on 18 July 2021, at about 12.45 pm, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna State, came under intense enemy fire which led to its crash in Zamfara State’.
Fortunately, the pilot successfully ejected from the aircraft, and using his survival instincts, was able to evade intense ground fire from the bandits, and sought refuge in nearby settlements awaiting sunset.
Using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation, Flight Lieutenant Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds and maneuvered his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued.
Gabkwet further disclosed that upon receipt of the news of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, CAS, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, had directed that all efforts must be emplaced to rescue the pilot.
Following the CAS’s direct orders, NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and helicopter gunships provided close air support to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops who were able to locate the crash site and the pilot’s parachute, while also combing nearby locations for any sign of the pilot.
While in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring away the bandits who were after him, thus enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location.
Gabkwet said further that it is in fulfilment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s orders to the Armed Forces of Nigeria to do all it takes to flush out criminal elements in Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna States, that the NAF, in conjunction with surface forces, has in the last two weeks mounted intensive day and night air interdiction operations against bandits and their hideouts, especially in these three States.
‘Through these intensive air operations, hundreds of bandits have been neutralized and several of their hideouts destroyed. Despite the setback of yesterday’s crash, the NAF remains committed towards fulfilling Mr President’s mandate as well as other constitutional roles assigned to it’, he stated.
He added that the ‘willingness, readiness and tested ability of the NAF remains unshaken and unwavering as it continues to carry out its assigned roles’.