A Nigerian Air Force fighter jet has gone missing in the insurgency ravaged Borno State in North-East Nigeria, authorities said Thursday morning.
The spokesperson for the Nigerian Air Force, Edward Gabkwet, said the alpha jet lost contact with the radar in Borno State Wednesday.
Mr Gabkwet, an air commodore, said the plane disappeared “while on interdiction mission in support of ground troops. 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.”
Mr Gabkwet added, “Details of the whereabout of the aircraft or likely cause of contact loss are still sketchy but will be relayed to the general public as soon as they become clear. Meanwhile, search and rescue efforts are ongoing.”
This development came weeks after another Air Force aircraft, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i, crashed after reporting engine failure on its way to Minna, Niger State.
The plane was heading to that destination to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the efforts to secure the release of the students/staff abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State.
That February 21 crash led to the death of Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama (Captain), Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot), Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) Specialist), Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist), and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).
The Nigerian Air Force is deeply involved in the anti-insurgency operation in the North-East as well as in the onslaught against bandits in the North-West and North-Central geopolitical zones, providing reconnaissance intelligence and aerial covers for ground troops.