The Nigerian Air Force, (NAF), has confirmed the death of its pilot in the crash involving two of its jets earlier on Friday.
The two NAF jets rehearsing for the Independence Day celebration crashed around Mashafa road in Mpape, Abuja.
However, the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola announced the death of the pilot in terse statement saying: “It is with a heavy heart that I regretfully announce that one of the pilots who successfully ejected from one of the F-7Ni aircraft that crashed earlier today has passed on. May his soul RIP.”
Witnesses told newsreportersng.com that after the collision, a loud sound was heard by people in the area.
One of the witnesses said he noticed that three Air Force personnel ejected from the jet but two of them drew open their parachute and landed, but the other was unable to open his parachute.
“He landed on the rocky hill and died instantly. The other jet roved and later flew away. Few minutes later; a joint security personnel arrived and cordoned off the scene.
“Some of those security personnel entered the bush leading to the mountain and carried the injured people to a hospital but the other was packed in a human bag”, he said.
The F-7Ni aircraft is one of the latest acquisition of the Nigerian Air Force. The aircraft was acquired and inducted into service of the NAF in 2009.
In 2005 it was reported that Nigeria has approved $251 million USD to purchase 15 Chengdu F-7 fighters from China. The deal includes 12 F-7Ni (NI = Nigeria) single seat fighters, and 3 FT-7NI dual-seat trainers. The $251 million package included $220 million for 15 aircraft, plus $32 million for armaments, including 20 live PL-9C AAM, 10 training PL-9 rounds, unguided rockets, and 250/500 kg bombs. Nigerian pilots began their training in China in 2008, with delivery of the aircraft to begin in 2009. Nigeria had previously considered a $160 million deal to refurbish its fleet of MiG-21’s by Aerostar/Elbit Systems, IAI, and RSK MiG. However, with the new F-7 purchase, the government of Nigeria has decided to suspend the refurbishment option and grounded its fleet of MiG 21’s.
Meanwhile, Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with a pilot of the ill-fated Nigerian Air Force fighter jet that crashed in the Katampe area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Friday.
He was accompanied by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu during their visit to the Defence Intelligence Agency’s Hospital in Abuja.
They were briefed by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar.