By Edward Adamidenyo and Michael Paul
Two pilots have been reportedly killed following the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Kaduna State on Tuesday.
The Trumpet learned that it was a military training plane with two officers on board. Although details of the incident were hazy as at press time, sources said the two officers on board died. It makes it five air crashes involving Nigerian military planes in the last one year.
An Air Force Alpha jet crashed in Zamfara State last year after an intense fire from terrorists. The pilot, however, survived the crash by ejecting from the aircraft.
Also, a NAF203 plane crash killed the then Chief of Army Staff and 10 others. Similarly, a Beechcraft King350 airplane – NAF201 crashed in February 2021, killing all eight officers onboard.
In April 2021 a Nigerian Air Force fighter jet was declared missing and suspected to have crashed leading to the death of two pilots.
While Boko Haram claimed to have shot it down, the military denied the claim. Air Force spokesman, Edward Gabkwet, later said the crash occurred as the Alpha jet, a light attack aircraft, was returning to base from a mission on the Zamfara-Kaduna border.
Deadly plane crashes in military operations had raised concerns over safety of the airspace in general. Aviation stakeholders noted that though the development was blight on the nation’s safety record in global aviation, the sequence of occurrences raises a ‘red flag’ to warrant new precautionary measures to avert more disasters, especially during the rainy season.
The aircraft type is said to be (Super Mushak). Effort to get details of the unfortunate incident as at press time yielded no result as the Director of Public and Information, Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet said that he was in a meeting.
As aforementioned, this is the fifth aircraft that crashed since the incumbent Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao assumed office. This tragic development comes 11 months after a NAF aircraft crashed in Kaduna killing the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, alongside ten other very senior military officers.
The incident, which occurred in May 2021, involved a Beechcraft 350, and the aircraft crashed around the Kaduna international airport. Late Gen. Attahiru was said to be on his way to Kaduna to attend a passing-out parade for army recruits.
Also, the persistent denial that the terrorists group did not shot down the NAF missing fighter jet in Borno State with two officers on board was demystified by the overrunning of Sambisa forest which, led to the troops of Operation Hadin Kai discovering the site of the crashed aircraft with the wreckage scattered at the heart of the evil forest.
Following the incident, members of the minority caucus in the house of representatives had asked the federal government to ensure that a “system-wide investigation” is conducted into such incidents involving military aircraft in the country.