The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has finally confirmed the crash of an Alpha jet that occurred on Sunday.
Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, NAF Director of Information, issued a statement on Monday.
NUBUNK first reportedthe crash that occurred between 12 noonand 1:30 pm yesterday.
The report by several media houses was initially denied by NAF.
But impeccable sources affirmed there was an incident and that the initial denial was made to manage the situation.
Our correspondent was informed thatFlight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo flew the fighter plane.
Nubunk protected his identity and the exact location of the mishap as the dispatched special forces to look for him.
Dairo winged the jet that eliminated more than 120 bandits in multiple airstrikes executed at Sububu forest in Zamfara on July 12.
After a reconnaissance aircraft dispatched to recce confirmed the presence of the criminals, Dairo pounced on their gathering at Sububu, Jajani, and Dammaka.
In his release, the NAF spokesman said on 18 July 2021, at about 12.45 pm, the jet after returning from an interdiction mission between Zamfara and Kaduna boundaries, came under fire which led to its crash in Zamfara.
Gabwet said Dairo successfully ejected from the aircraft, using his survival instincts.
The pilot again came under intense ground fire from the bandits but was able to evade them and sought refuge in nearby settlements awaiting sunset.
Using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation, Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds and maneuvered his way to a Nigerian Army unit, where he was finally rescued.
Upon receipt of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, directed that all efforts must be emplaced to rescue the pilot.
NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and helicopter gunships provided close air support to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops.
They eventually located the crash site and the pilot’s parachute, while also combing nearby locations for any sign of the pilot.
NAF expressed gladness that while in hiding, Dairo confirmed that the presence of the aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits.
Gabwet added that following the order by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Air Force has in the last two weeks mounted intensive day and night air raids against bandits and their hideouts in North-West States.
The Air Commodore said 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.”
The statement reiterated that the willingness, readiness and ability of the military arm remain unshaken as it continues to carry out its assigned roles.