An Ethiopian Airforce Sukhoi SU27 fighter plane yesterday crashed immediately after takeoff from the Debrezeit air force base, Ethiopia’s main air force base located 50 km Southeast of Addis Ababa, killing two pilots.
An instructor and a trainee pilot were flying the Russian made SU27 fighter jet procured during the two- year Ethio-Eritrean border war of 1998-2000. The instructor pilot Major Sebri Tofik ,37, died in the accident together with the trainee pilot. Sources told The Reporter that the fighter plane engine caught fire during takeoff and crashed near the Addis Ababa-Adama road. Though the instructor reportedly ejected out of the fighter plane, the parachute failed to open due to the low altitude.
The Sukhoi Su-27 is a Soviet-origin twin-engine supermaneuverable fighter aircraft designed by Sukhoi Military Aircraft manufacturer.
Major Sebri Tofik graduated from Ethiopian Air Force Academy in 2007. Sources told The Reporter that he stood first in his class and served the Ethiopian Air Force for more than a decade. Sebri was an engineering student at Jimma University. He withdrew to join the Ethiopian Air Force Academy as he had a passion for flying. Sebri was married and a father of two.
Ethiopian Army aviation has commenced investigation into the accident. In August 2018, a military transport plane that crashed near Debrezeit air force base killed 19 people on board.
Ethiopian Air Force was established by Swedish Air Force personnel in the 1940s during the imperial regime. Later most of the pilots and technicians were trained in the US. Former Soviet Airforce supported the Ethiopian Air Force beginning the 1970s until end of the Cold War.
By Kaleyesus Bekele