Nigerian Alpha Jet crashes in Zamfara

A Nigerian Air Force (NAF)-operated Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet A/N jet trainer/light attack aircraft crashed in the country’s north-western Zamfara state after being hit by intense ground fire from bandits.

The aircraft – serial unknown – was returning to base following a successful interdiction mission in an area on the boundary between the Kaduna and Zamfara states. The incident occurred at approximately 1245hrs (local time).

Nigerian AF Alpha Jet [Nigerian AF via Twitter]
A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) pilot climbs into his Dassault-Breguet Alpha Jet A/N before departing on a close air support mission against insurgents in Sokoto in July 2020. Nigerian Air Force via Twitter (@NigAirForce)

The pilot, Flt Lt Abayomi Dairo, ejected safely from the Alpha Jet and managed to evade bandits on the ground, seeking refuge in nearby settlements until sunset. Eventually, he safely made his way to a Nigerian Army unit under the cover of darkness, using his mobile phone for navigation, where he was finally rescued. The NAF confirmed the loss, saying that it occurred during operations against bandits in the region.

NAF intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft and helicopter gunships provided close air support (CAS) to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops while they located the crash site and the pilot’s parachute. The teams also combed nearby locations in an effort to locate the pilot. After being rescued, Dairo said that the presence of the NAF aircraft in the vicinity of the crash site helped to scare off bandits who were looking for him, enabling him to find refuge in a safe location.