A Nigerian Air Force F7-Ni fighter has crashed whilst on a routine training exercise. The pilot, who ejected from the aircraft, survived the crash.
The aircraft came down yesterday close to Kaduna International Airport. Nigerian Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Yusuf Anas in a statement said the pilot ejected safely from the single-seat fighter.
The statement said a Search and Rescue Team from the Nigerian Air Force’s 301 Flying Training School at Kaduna immediately rescued the pilot, who is in a stable condition.
The statement said the pilot was receiving treatment at the Nigerian Air Force Aero Medical Hospital, Kaduna. No fatality was reported on the ground.
A preliminary investigation into the crash has been ordered by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar, to ascertain the cause of the accident.
On March 22 last year the Nigerian Air Force lost another F7. The aircraft was taking off from 303 Flying Training School at Kano’s Mallam Aminu International Airport when it failed to lift off, crashed and exploded. The pilot, Group Captain Enny Bibinu Saleh, died in the crash.
The aircraft had been brought from an air base in Makurdi on March 18 for a two week flying training exercise.
Another F7-Ni was lost on May 11, 2011, crashing near a school at Mbaniongu Mbazaam in Benue State, but no casualties were recorded. Both pilots successfully ejected from the aircraft.
In 2005 Nigeria approved the US$251 million procurement of 12 F-7Ni single seat fighters and three FT-7Ni dual-seat trainers from China. The package also included US$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.
Umar previously expressed his satisfaction with the technical quality of the aircraft and did not ground the fleet after previous crashes. “The F7-N fighter jets we are flying are very good aircraft. We have confidence in the quality of the aircraft that we have,” he said.
Nigeria has one of the biggest militaries in West Africa and is modernising and upgrading all branches of its armed forces. On March 16 the Air Force officially took delivery of two refurbished Eurocopter Super Puma helicopters. The two aircraft were originally purchased in 1988, and used in various Nigerian Air Force peacekeeping operations, but were grounded in 1997 due to a lack of spares. Another two Super Pumas are being upgraded in Romania and will be used for internal security operations.
In March the Nigerian Air Force announced it had established a Quick Response Force to combat Boko Haram insurgents, ethno-religious crises, kidnappings and other security threats. The unit, comprising 70 officers, will also be involved in the search and rescue of air crash victims, airborne rescue of flood victims as well as other security contingencies, Nigerian media report.