THE Nigerian Air Force said one of their pilots had been rescued after bandits gunned down an Alpha Jet aircraft in Zamfara State on Sunday.
Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information Edward Gabkwet confirmed this in a statement on Monday.
He said the aircraft was gunned down while returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states when it came under intense enemy fire, leading to its crash in Zamfara State.
He added that Abayomi Dairo, the pilot, was able to escape the crash using his survival instincts.
“Luckily, the gallant pilot of the aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, successfully ejected from the aircraft. Using his survival instincts. The pilot, who came under intense ground fire from the bandits, was able to evade them and sought refuge in nearby settlements awaiting sunset,” he said.
“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.
“It is instructive to note that upon receipt of the news of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, had directed that all efforts must be emplaced to rescue the pilot.”
Gabkwet stated that the NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance 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.
The NAF assured that despite the setback of the crash, they remained committed to fulfilling President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate as well as other constitutional roles assigned to them.
“The willingness, readiness, and tested ability of the NAF remain unshaken and unwavering as it continues to carry out its assigned roles,” he said.