An Alpha Jet (NAF 466) belonging to the Nigerian Air Force and involved in the counter insurgency operation against the extremist Boko Haram sect has gone missing around Adamawa State.
The spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, said the aircraft, with two pilots onboard, went missing on Friday.
In a statement early Sunday, Mr. Olukolade said the aircraft “left Yola at about 10:45a.m on 12 September 2014 on a routine operational mission and was expected back by 12:00 noon”.
“Since then, all efforts to establish contact with the aircraft have not yielded any positive result,” the statement said.
Mr. Olukolade said search and rescue effort had since commenced “to establish contact with the crew”.
Military insiders told PREMIUM TIMES the missing plane is among a number of aircraft deployed for intense aerial bombardment of Boko Haram fighters.
The Nigerian military had on September 1 launched heavy air bombardment on Bama, Borno State’s second most important city, after pulling off its ground troops as the town came under Boko Haram attack following hours of fierce fighting.
Even after it announced it had regained Bama, the military had continued to shell locations believed to have large concentration of insurgents.
The aerial bombardment, insiders say, has left the Boko Haram insurgents suffering extensive losses in men and equipment.
But as the military bombed their locations from above, the terrorists also began to plot against the aircraft carrying out the operation.
The military on Saturday said some of the equipment recovered from the terrorists during an operation in Konduga were three Hilux and one Buffalo vehicles with mounted anti-aircraft guns.
It is however not clear whether the missing plane was shot down or whether it was simply involved in an accident.
It is the second time in less than two months that a military aircraft would go missing while flying over the insurgency-hit area of Nigeria.
On July 21, the military announced that a Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Mi-35 helicopter, had gone missing and later crashed while “on a training mission”.
The helicopter’s co-pilot, Flight Lieutenant NM Halilu, and the aircraft technician, Warrant Officer Augustine Nwanonenyi, survived the crash while the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Onyeka Nwakile, died in the incident.