Nigerian Alpha Jet 'lost'
A NIGERIAN Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet, serial number NAF-466, went missing on September 12 in the far northeast of the country. It was not until two days later on September 14 that the NAF revealed the aircraft had disappeared. There has been no word on the possible fate of the aircraft and its two-man crew.
A statement by the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, said: “The aircraft, with two pilots on board, left Yola about 1045hrs on September 12 on a routine operational mission and was expected back by 1200hrs. Since then, all efforts to establish contact with the aircraft have not yielded any positive result. Meanwhile, the search and rescue effort is ongoing to establish contact with the crew.”
The NAF is currently conducting ‘highly co-ordinated’ air and land operations against the Boko Haram insurgents in the country, although it was not revealed whether the missing Alpha Jet was undertaking one of these sorties. Local resident have reported an increasing number of sorties from Yola, which is in Adamawa state, eastern Nigeria, in the last week or so. Alpha Jets had not previously been known to be based at Yola, but it seems likely that a detachment has been set up there to enable the aircraft to be closer to the areas where the Boko Haram terrorists are operating.
The NAF Alpha Jet fleet, which had been largely grounded for some time, has been revitalised with the progressive refurbishment and return to airworthiness of these aircraft over the last few years. The number of aircraft that have been returned to operational use to date is, however, unconfirmed. One of these has already been lost in a crash on May 6, 2013, in Niger, which killed both crew members.