Details of how Nigerian Airforce fighter aircraft pounded Sambisa forests to surrender before ground troops of Nigerian soldiers marched in to complete the take-over has emerged.
Fighter pilots of the Nigerian Airforce who flew and dropped sorties of ammunition payloads in the dreaded Boko Haram enclave revealed that the deployment of several aircraft types by the NAF with ‘night vision and interdiction capabilities’ cleared the way leading to the down fall of ‘Camp Zairo’.
Speaking under condition of anonymity, one of the pilots said the aircraft types deployed for the final onslaught included the F7 supersonic attack jets, Alpha Jets for close target attack, Mi35 Helicopter gunships for precision clear out, Super Puma Attack Helicopters and MI 24 patrol aircraft.
Also deployed were the two reconfigured ballistic defence capability aircraft recently collected from the presidential air fleet.
The F7 bomber which was the flagship of the attack squadron took off after pre-dawn and pre-night surveillance flight had been made with digitized photos support.
This is then followed by close mopping up attacks by the alpha jets and the Mi35 gunships.
The Ballistics helicopters served as air ambulance and troop carrier for operational deployment.
Pilots disclosed that prior to stepping up the final push against the terrorist group; the NAF locally reconfigured and weaponized 3 Alpha Jets for combat roles.
These jets were acquired by previous administrations without weapon delivery capability at the heat of troop’s offensive to recapture seized territories before the 2015 elections.
The Hercules C-130 aircraft and the Medium range G-333 airlift aircraft airlifted logistics and military weaponry used for the final attack from the various armament depots in Kaduna and Lagos to the Operational zone while several airlift of wounded soldiers and other casualties which gave troops a sense of reassurance about their colleagues were also conducted by the airforce.
A pilot said, “For one week, prior to ground troops advance, the surveillance and pounding operation continued and this enabled the over 4000 thousand ground troops backed by artillery weaponry and mine clearing armoured tanks to navigate the six controlled and accessibility sectors through which the Camps of the Commanders were brought down.
“Many of the deaths recorded by the terrorists were actually recorded from air bombardments as the airforce night operations took them by surprise as their usually reliable anti-aircraft (AA) guns which were strategically mounted in the forest, were systematically taken out with night vision controlled attacks.
“Also, some of the armoured personnel carriers seized from Nigerian soldiers in past battles and other which the terrorists acquired from ‘God Knows Where’ that were positioned in the forest for surface to air strikes were demobilized by the air bombardments hence the resort of terrorists who survived to scamper into escape routes in the forest”.
Another Pilot said “The acquisition and recent induction of the Super Mushshak aircraft from Pakistani Airforce into the NAF that were used for pre-offensive training prepared the fighter pilots for the nature of the operation.
“One unique feature about this trainer aircraft is its ruggedness to perform both basic and advanced aerobatics of military flying training, which is an essential criterion for producing seasoned combat pilots.”