NAF Jet Returning from Recce Mission When it Crashed
Military sources have revealed that the Nigerian Air Force Alpha combat aircraft, which crashed near Niamey, Niger Republic on Monday, killing the two pilots on board, was returning from a reconnaissance (recce) mission in Mali in support of the AFISMA operations in the country.
The aircraft had crashed at 1.05 pm around Dargol village, 60 kilometres west of Niamey on its return from a non-combat mission. It was one of the four aircraft deployed by the air force for the war efforts against Islamic insurgents in Mali.
According to a source at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), “There is no preliminary report on the cause of crash yet but we can confirm that the plane was returning from reconnaissance 60 kilometre to their base in Niamey.”
Meanwhile, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Mashal Alex Badeh yesterday visited the families of the dead pilots – the late Squadron Leader Benjamin Bem Ado and Flying Officer Ayuba Joab Layelmenson.
Badeh, during a condolence visit to Kaduna and Kainji, Niger State, consoled the families on the tragic loss.
“I, on behalf of the entire air force and a grateful nation, come to condole with you on the tragic loss of your loved ones. May their gentle souls rest in perfect peace,” he said.
Badeh also used the occasion to interact with officers of the 99 Air Combat Training Group, the home base of the deceased officers and urged them to remain steadfast in their professional duties.
Also, the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, in a statement confirmed the identies of both officers.
According to Anas, Ado hailed from Koshinsha Local Government Area of Benue State and was a member of the 50th Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).
He said that the deceased was an instructor pilot who had flown many aircraft types in the Nigerian Air Force as well as in Pakistan and the United States of America. The officer was married and blessed with a child.
The NAF apokesman also disclosed that the second pilot, Layelmenson hailed from Azare in Shongom LGA of Gombe State and was a member of the 57th Regular Course.
He graduated from the Hellenic Air Force Academy in July, 2011 and was commissioned into the NAF as a pilot officer.
The deceased was a qualified squadron pilot of the Alpha jet before the unfortunate incident and was survived by his parents.
Also, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Aliyu Isma’ila on behalf of the Minister of State for Defence, Mrs Olusola Obada and staff of the ministry, condoled the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim and Badeh over the crash.
Isma’ila noted the challenges facing the security services and promised that the ministry will continue to provide quality and timely services to the armed forces.
Source: By Senator Iroegbu, thisdaylive.com News – 8 May 2013
Photo: The Nigerian Air Force Dassault-Dornier AlphaJet Attack Aircraft (Photo by commons.wikimedia.org)