The Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet which went missing during a Boko Haram operation on Wednesday in the North-East has crashed.
The Nigerian Air Force said on Friday that intelligence gathered so far indicated that the jet might have crashed although it had yet to know the whereabouts of the jet or the two pilots on board.
Military sources said the jet crashed in the Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State, although the NAF has not confirmed any location.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, arrived in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Thursday to coordinate the ongoing search and rescue mission for the Alpha Jet which got lost during the Boko Haram combat mission in the North-East.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, stated that the air force still believed the two pilots would be found and rescued.
“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 March 31, 2021 might have crashed.
“The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the 2 pilots remains 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,” Air Commodore Gabkwet stated in an update on Friday morning.
The fighter jet went missing on Wednesday around 5pm, 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 supposed investigations into the crash had yet to be made public.