By Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force
It may be recalled that the Headquarters 7 Brigade Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) Baga came under attack by members of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) on the evening of 26 December 2018. Upon receipt of the information of the attack, the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE immediately dispatched a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform along with 2 Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships to provide support for the troops to repel the attack.
The NAF ISR aircraft, which was overhead the troops location as at 7.15pm, also worked closely with a Nigerien Air Force and another allied ISR aircraft that were also in the operation area at the time of the attack.
The ISR platforms were in contact with the ground troops and assisted in directing their fire against the terrorists, while the helicopter gunships engaged the terrorists at isolated locations destroying some of their vehicles and neutralizing some fighters.
The ATF also provided support for Nigerian Army (NA) and Nigerian Navy (NN) troops at the Naval Base at Doron Baga, which equally came under attack by ISWAP fighters on the morning of 27 December 2018. The ATF deployed 2 ISR platforms, 2 Helicopter Gunships and 2 Alpha Jet aircraft to provide ISR and close air support to the troops.
After establishing communication with the ground troops, the location of the terrorists was ascertained and engaged by the Alpha Jet aircraft. The NAF and allied ISR platforms also spotted 2 ISWAP vehicles heading southwards from Baga and vectored the Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the vehicles, completely destroying one of them and neutralizing the occupants.
In order to enhance the quality of coordination between the air and ground operations, the Theatre Commander and Maritime Component Commander were carried onboard the ISR platform during one of the flights. In all, the ATF conducted 20 missions in 21 sorties with a total of about 39 hours flown on 26 and 27 December in support of operations in Baga general area.
A short video clip showing highlights of the support provided on 26 and 27 December 2018, along with a Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) video showing parts of the successful attack on the terrorists’ vehicles, is attached.
The NAF appreciates the existing synergy with our gallant surface forces as well as our Regional Allies in adding value to our collective efforts to protect our territory and people….