Between 2015 and 2023, Nigeria under the President, Major General, Muhammadu Buhari (retd), suffered a total of 14 military air crashes, resulting in the loss of 15 aircraft.
The crashes during the period under review killed no fewer than 33 military personnel, while the whereabouts of two personnel are still unknown.
The cause of the incidents have not been made public, despite assurances by Nigerian Air Force.
However, experts blamed the mishap largely on poor maintenance of the aircraft.
Also, despite the addition of the Super Tucano jet, the crashes have come at a financial cost to the military as well as reducing the number of aircraft in their fleet.
A statement attributed to the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, after the April 2022 crash, said, “The incident had depleted the human capital assets of the Air Force.” affirmed this.
The PUNCH reports that except for 2020 and 2023, cases of crashes were recorded yearly.
In February 2023, the Air Force was fortunate not to have recorded a crash after one of their jets lost its tyre mid-air and made an emergency landing at Lagos Airport on its belly.
Between February 22, 2021 and April 19, 2022, no fewer than 20 military personnel lost their lives in the ill-fated crashes.
On February 22, 2021, seven NAF personnel on their way from Abuja to Minna, Niger State to rescue the abducted students and workers of Government Science College, Kagara, died when their plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport.
On March 31, 2021, former NAF spokesperson, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, confirmed an aircraft crash and the whereabouts of the two pilots.
The most prominent of the crashes happened on May 21, 2021. A military Beachcraft 350 aircraft crashed at the Kaduna International Airport, killing the 11 people onboard, including the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru.
On July 18, 2021, another Alpha Jet Aircraft crashed in Zamfara after it was shot down by bandits. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, escaped from the crashed aircraft.
In April 2022, a trainer aircraft crashed in Kaduna, killing two pilots on board.
Other crashes are the August 29, 2015, Air Force plane crash in Kaduna which killed seven persons out of which four were military personnel.
In another incident on October 10, 2015, an F-7Nl jet crashed and claimed one life. Also, an Augusta Westland 101 helicopter crashed in Makurdi, Benue State on November 15, 2016
On July 6, 2017, a NAF Agusta 109 Light Utility Helicopter crashed in Borno River. There were no casualties.
Two F-7Ni aircraft crashed around Katampe Hills in Abuja, on September 28, 2018. The airplanes collided with each other during a rehearsal for Nigeria’s 58th independence anniversary celebration. One person died in the crash.
On January 2, 2019, five crew members were killed on NAF Mi-35 were killed when the aircraft crashed near Damasak, Borno State.
Also, a NAF helicopter crashed while landing in Katsina State, on June 12, 2019. No life was lost in the crash.
Similarly, on August 17, 2019, a NAF aircraft RV-6A Air Beetle crashed near Kaduna, killing the pilot, an experienced instructor.
The crash at the NAF base in Enugu involved a training helicopter. The incident happened on November 14, 2019. No life was lost to the incident.
A security expert, Timothy Avele, said the crashes under the Buhari regime could be linked to lack of maintenance, among others.
He said, “Military air crashes occur in any military in the world even in the USA. However, losing over 30 personnel in over 12 crashes in a span of eight years shows either lack of international maintenance standards or lack of quality and airworthiness policy implementation.
“Generally, we have a poor maintenance culture in Nigeria, especially by government agencies.
“Another major factor that should be looked into is the issue of the quality of spare parts supplied to maintain these military aircraft.”