Two Nigerian Air Force (NAF) F-7NI fighter jets collided mid-air on Friday while rehearsing for the flypast celebrating Nigeria’s 58th Independence Day.
One of the aircraft reportedly crashed onto the Mpape hill in Abuja, the country’s capital, killing its pilot.
I wish to confirm that an air incident involving 2 Nigerian Air Force aircraft taking part in the rehearsals for the 58th Independence Day Celebrations occurred this morning in Abuja. Details will be communicated later. Thank you
— Nigerian Air Force (@NigAirForce) September 28, 2018
The death of one of the pilots involved in the crash was initially confirmed by Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI) Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. He added that the pilot was able to successfully eject from the aircraft following the crash but died later.
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. Additional details on the incident will be communicated later. Thank you
— Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola (@KunleDaramola3) September 28, 2018
F-7 is the export variant of Chengdu J-7, the Chinese license-built version of the Soviet-era MiG-21 interceptor aircraft. In early 2008, Nigeria procured 12 F-7NI fighter jets and three FT-7NI jet trainers to replace the existing fleet of MiG-21 aircraft. The first batch of F-7s arrived in December 2009.