In a statement issued late Monday the ministry of defence said the pilot of the Ethiopian attack helicopter forced his co-pilot and technician to land in Eritrean territory.
The helicopter was conducting a routine training flight when it disappeared on Friday morning, prompting a massive military search across northern Ethiopia.
It’s unusual for Ethiopian army personnel to flee to Eritrea though Eritrean troops often across the border into Ethiopia, citing harsh conditions and forced conscription into the military.
Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have been consistently strained since Eritrea gained its independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993 following a 30-year of ELF and EPLF guerrilla war against Haille Selassie and Mengistu Haille mariam.
Some sources have identified the two missing pilots as Captain Samuel Ghidey and Lieutenant Yililign Mekonen.
The latest defection brings the total number Ethiopian air force pilots to have defected this year to Eritrea to 11, with eight deserting in October alone.