On Wednesday night, the Nigerian Airforce reported the lost of radar contact with an Alpha Jet conducting a routine mission in the Sambisa forest area of Northeast Nigeria.
In this post, I will be sharing with you exactly what happened to the fighter jet and its pilots with photographic images and video.
A faction of Boko Haram led by Abubakar Shekau released a video on Friday morning showing how they shot down the said Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet which exploded mid-air and crashed to the ground..
The seven minutes 30 seconds-long video showed the Alpha Jet flying low over a battlefield arena with multiple Boko Haram fighters engaging in fierce and uncoordinated firefights.
The insurgents could be seen firing what was likely a heavy machine gun (anti-aircraft gun) towards the combat aircraft. Then the footage of a fireball explosion could be seen, as the Alpha Jet headed rapidly towards the ground.
Boko Haram fighters subsequently moved to the area of the crash and began removing components of the aircraft and the pilots’ personal belongings
The video also showed a masked fighter armed with a belt-fed machine gun standing on the aircraft debris, and speaking both Arabic and English.
Multiple Boko Haram fighters had gun trucks, motorcycles, AK pattern rifles, belt-fed machines and what appeared to be at least one OTO Melara M56 105mm howitzer improvised into a mobile artillery system and Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (SBVIEDs) type vehicle.
This incident raises safety concerns on both military and humanitarian aircraft flying over the conflict zone. It is unclear if the crash was caused by the anti-aircraft gun or a weapon system the group did not show in the video.
The Alpha Jet is an advanced trainer and attack aircraft that has served in the NAF inventory for almost 30 years, with the Air Force receiving new deliveries of the attack (A) variants in 2015 and 2018 from the United States of America. The crashed NAF 475 Alpha Jet is from that batch.
The Alpha Jets are usually equipped with Soviet rocket pods and unguided bombs used for targeting ground targets.
NAF had lost radar contact with an Alpha Jet conducting a routine mission in support of ground troops on Wednesday evening in the Sambisa forest area of Borno State, Northeast Nigeria.
Earlier today, the Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, revealed the identities of the pilots as Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.
“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,” he had said before Boko Haram’s video surfaced.
WHAT NAF AUTHORITIES SAID:
The Nigerian Air Force has dismissed claims by terror group Boko Haram that it gunned down the missing Alpha jet, which disappeared from radar on Wednesday, March 31.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft in a viral video.
But the Director Public Relations and Information Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said the viral video could be clips from a previous incident.
He insisted the video is fraught with inconsistencies that established it was fake, adding the lush vegetation in one of the videos suggest it was not in the Northeast.
NAF spokesperson, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said: “We have seen some videos but there is nothing that has proven that the aircraft in those clips belongs to us, or have you seen a Nigerian Air Force aircraft number or the body of Air Force pilot or have you seen any Air Force unifor until we get all these details strengthen out, we are not going to go into speculation.
“That video could have been shot somewhere. I have seen four videos so far, one of them has lush vegetation in the background, and I wonder where they have such vegetation in the Northeast. Unless they did something and they are releasing the clips bit by bit, we are waiting.
“Except we have evidence, because like I said, these persons have families and you cannot go their wives, parents or wards, you must bring concrete evidence. There must be something to show”.