TWO Ethiopian Air Force pilots reportedly went missing since yesterday morning with their two MI-35 combat helicopters.
The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) breaks the news this evening after confirming the defections of the two pilots and the two military helicopters from the Ethiopian Air Force inventory.
Due to the increasing number of defection, the Ethiopian Air Force enforced a restriction that only allow flying within a 30 minute flight radius during training periods. The ban, however, couldn’t stop disgruntled members of the force to abandon the regime and seek protection in neighboring countries like Eritrea, flying with their multi-million dollar military machines.
According to ESAT, the two missing pilots are named as Captain Samuel Ghidey and Lieutenant Yililign Mekonen.
Ethiopian Air Force is no stranger to such high profile defection. In October of this year alone, Four SU-25 Fighter Jet captains deserted the Air Force to join armed opposition groups based in Eritrea.
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Until the time of reporting, it was not clear if these two helicopter pilots defected to Eritrea or not. However, it is highly unlikely for an Ethiopian Air Force pilot to seek protection elsewhere apart from Eritrea.
We are following the event and will continue to update you with more information on the fate of these two pilots and their expensive combat helicopters. Stay tuned.