Nigeria’s Proforce has secured its first export order for its Ara 2 armoured personnel carriers, from Chad.
Interest in the vehicles was sparked during a visit by Chad’s President Idriss Deby in 2018, with the contract for 20 vehicles finalised in June this year, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly. An undisclosed source told Jane’s that deliveries will start before the end of this year in batches of five vehicles at a time.
The Ara 2 is a major boost to Chad’s military, which has not received many new vehicles over the last five years with the delivery of 11 Israeli RAM armoured vehicles in 2015 being its only major acquisition. Chad relies on BMP-1, WZ-523, VAB-VTT, Bastion Patsas and BTR-60/80 vehicles to meet its armoured personnel carrier requirements.
The Ara 2 is currently being delivered to the Nigerian Army, which received five at the beginning of March this year, three several weeks ago and another five at the beginning of July. These have been deployed them to the country’s northeast to fight Boko Haram insurgents. Proforce delivered eight earlier model Aras to the Nigerian Army in 2018.
The latest version of the Ara was displayed during the Nigerian Army Day celebrations on 6 July. It features a fully monocoque hull (the previous Ara used a Tatra 2.30 TRK 4×4 truck chassis). Development of the improved version began in January 2018 after feedback from the Nigerian military.
The latest Ara 2 is built to STANAG level 4569 protection standards with double skin protection of Level 3A and 3B, and an underbelly of 4A and 4B. This protection level ensures an underbelly with a V-shaped hull design that can withstand a 100 kg mine. The higher ground clearance of 442 mm and the central tyre inflation system enhances the vehicle’s off-road capabilities and can take this vehicle to urban, mountainous and challenging rural terrains, Proforce said.
With the capacity to carry up to 12 personnel plus equipment, the 15 ton Ara 2 can be configured into multiple variants including recovery, command and control, ambulance, field kitchen and reconnaissance. A 12.7 mm machinegun can be mounted on a 360 degree roof turret which can be open or fully enclosed.
Also during the 6 July celebrations, the Nigerian Army commissioned into service several new locally designed and built vehicles produced by the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAVMC). On display at the Ikeja Military Cantonment in Lagos state on 6 July were a new version of the Infantry Patrol Vehicle (IPV) fitted with a mounted heavy machinegun; a Tactical Patrol Vehicle with seating for eight personnel, and a Light Tactical Vehicle armoured personnel carrier.
NAVMC, officially established at the beginning of this year, is developing several armoured vehicles, for the Nigerian military.