Another Nigerian F-7Ni lost in a crash

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The Nigerian Air Force has lost another F-7Ni jet in a crash, with a two-seat trainer coming down on 14 July.

Nigerian Air Force Director, Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said in a statement on Friday the aircraft crashed in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State in northern Nigeria, while on routine training exercise.

The two pilots on board survived the crash after ejecting from the aircraft. The pilots were taken to hospital for observation.

Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Hassan Abubakar constituted a Board of Inquiry to determine the causes of the crash.

In 2005 Nigeria approved the $251 million procurement of 12 F-7Ni single seat fighters and three FT-7Ni dual-seat trainers from Chengdu Aircraft Corporation. The package also included $32 million worth of PL-9C air-to-air missiles, rockets and bombs.

Nigerian pilots began training on the jet in China in 2008 while delivery began in 2009 and concluded in mid-2010 to replace ageing MiG-21s.

Six have been lost in crashes over the years, along with three pilots. The first F-7Ni was destroyed in a crash on 22 March 2011, and the first twin seater FT-7Ni was lost on 11 May 2011, with both pilots successfully ejecting. On 3 May 2012 a single seater crashed near Kaduna Airport, with the pilot ejecting successfully. Another single seater was lost on 10 October 2015 during counterinsurgency operations near Yola Airport. Two F-7s (a single seater and a twin seater) were lost during a midair collision on 29 September 2018 while practicing for impendence day celebrations. Although all three pilots ejected, one died.

From November 2020 five surviving F-7Nis were sent to Chengdu for heavy maintenance and upgrades while two were overhauled locally with the help of Chinese technicians. They had returned to service by the end of last year, and apparently bolstered by an extra FT-7Ni donated by Chengdu.