THE Nigerian Airforce (NAF) has said that one of its fighter jets earlier declared missing on Wednesday might have crashed along with two pilots of the force.
This is contained in a statement issued by NAF director of public relations and information Edward Gabkwet on Friday in Abuja.
Gabkwet said intelligence report gathered by the NAF indicated that the alpha jet aircraft (NAF475) that went off the radar with two crew members on board on March 31 might have crashed.
He also disclosed that the cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of two pilots in the jet remained unknown.
According to Gabkwet, the pilots were John Abolarinwa and Ebiakpo Chapele -both Flight Lieutenants.
NAF said extensive search and rescue efforts were still ongoing by the force’s 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 statement read in part.
The ICIR had reported that the alpha jet was said to have lost contact with radar in Borno State while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops fighting the insurgency.
“The mission was part of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North East. The loss of radar contact occurred at about 5:08 pm on 31 March 2021,” The ICIR had reported.
Borno State, where contact was lost with the fighter jet, is one of the hotspots of the activities of Boko Haram insurgents that have terrorised North-East Nigeria for over a decade.
This is coming less than two months after seven officers lost their lives to a jet crash in Abuja after reporting engine failure.