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Nigerian Navy acquires Falcon Eye maritime surveillance system

NNS Thunder.The Nigerian Navy (NN) has acquired the Falcon Eye Israeli-designed mass surveillance system to monitor the country’s territorial waters and track movements within the broader Gulf of Guinea maritime zone.

The Falcon Eye is a sophisticated mass surveillance system designed in Israeli but manufactured by United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Falcon Technologies. The company also manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Its mass surveillance system uses a number of electro-optic systems and cameras operated from a command centre to detect and pinpoint vehicular and human movements within prescribed security environments.

Addressing delegates at the Nigerian Navy's inaugural lecture for officers on 17 September, Rear-Admiral Francis Akapan said the installation of critical components of the Falcon Eye maritime surveillance system is still continuing at strategic points within the country's territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

He said once completely rolled out, the system will enable the navy to monitor all movements and prevent the commission of maritime crimes such as piracy, oil theft, vandalism offshore oil infrastructure and illegal aircraft movements within the Gulf of Guinea.

The system will operate at least five observation posts which will feed information and real time imagery to a central command centre/fusion cell where information will be analysed and shared with relevant stakeholders.

The mass surveillance system offers 24-hour video surveillance, access control, perimeter detection and intrusion detection among others. The Nigerian navy said once fully installed, the Falcon Eye will be linked up to share surveillance information with the existing Regional Maritime Awareness Capability Centre (RMAC) which was set up in the Gulf of Guinea in March this year.

Addressing delegates at the Africa Offshore Patrol Vessels held in Lagos last month, NN Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Eastern Naval Command Rear Admiral Henry Babalola said Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea face a myriad of security problems which can be solved if the RMAC is complemented with the Falcon Eye surveillance project.

He said the West African maritime environment is threatened by maritime crimes which include crude oil theft, oil bunkering, piracy, sea robbery, kidnapping and smuggling. The region faces small arms trafficking, human and narcotics and smuggling, illegal fishing and marine pollution.

"There is a need for the activation of a robust Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) capability through the employment of the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) facilities installed in 6 sensor sites located along the Nigerian coast. Through its integral radar, camera and Automatic Identification System (AIS), the RMAC provides round-the–clock surveillance of the maritime environment up to 35 nautical miles from the coast," Rear-Admiral Babalola said.

Last month, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) announced plans to acquire UAVs for use in its fight against the rampant problem of oil theft. The drones will be used in the company's ambitious plan to totally eradicate oil theft and bunkering in just eight months.