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Nigeria loses another Alpha Jet

An Alpha Jet was shot down by criminals on 18 July, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) confirmed the following day.

NAF spokesman Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet said the aircraft had carried out a successful interdiction mission on the border of Zamfara and Kaduna states when it “came under intense enemy fire” and crashed. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, ejected and was rescued.

“NAF intelligence, surveillance, [and] reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and helicopter gunships provided close air support to NAF special forces and Nigerian Army troops who were able to locate the crash site and the pilot's parachute, while also combing nearby locations for any sign of the pilot,” Air Cdre Gabkwet said in a statement. “While in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits who were after him, thus enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location.”

This is the second Alpha Jet the NAF has lost this year after one went missing on 31 March. The militant group known as Boko Haram released a video showing the wreckage of the aircraft and seemingly the body of at least one the aircraft's two aircrew. The NAF denied the group's claim the aircraft was shot down but has yet to find its wreckage.

The NAF has also lost two Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft this year: one during a surveillance mission on 21 February and a second that was carrying the chief of the army staff and his aides on 25 May. All crew and passengers were killed in both incidents. The results of the investigations into the causes of these crashes have not been released.

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