The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has confirmed media reports that its Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from an air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna state was gunned down by bandits.
A statement by Director of Public Relations and Information Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet Monday, said the pilot of the aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, successfully ejected from the aircraft.
Explaining how the pilot escaped, Gabkwet said, “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.
“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.”
He said upon receipt of the news of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, directed that all efforts must be emplaced to rescue the pilot.
“Accordingly, NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) 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.
“It is gladdening to note that while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits who were after him, thus enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location.”
The NAF had denied media reports that it plane crash in kaduna on Sunday.