Nigeria manufacturing Mengshi vehicles locally

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Nigerian company EPAIL is manufacturing Dongfeng Mengshi light tactical armoured vehicles for the Nigerian military, which recently took delivery of 20.

The Nigerian Ministry of Defence in early May announced that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Ibrahim Abubakar Kana, had handed over 20 armoured personnel carriers to Defence Headquarters during a ceremony at Mogadishu Barracks in Abuja. They were received by Chief of Defence Staff General Christopher Gwabin Musa, who was also accompanied by Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye.

According to Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, the Director of Defence Information, the armoured vehicles represent a significant advancement, boasting upgraded weaponry and communication systems capable of detecting and engaging adversaries from afar, thereby enhancing military effectiveness.

Kana noted that the vehicles were domestically manufactured, signalling a cost-saving measure for the nation, while also generating employment opportunities and reducing dependence on foreign currency.

The vehicles, while not named by the Nigerian Ministry of Defence, appear to be Mengshi models with the badge of the Nigerian company Equipment and Protective Applications International Limited (EPAIL).

After the handover, EPAIL stated, “we had the privilege of delivering 20 cutting-edge Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles (LTAVs) to the Defence Headquarters, representing a pivotal moment in our nation’s fight against insecurity. By producing these LTAVs domestically, we contribute to Nigeria’s journey towards self-sufficiency.”

EPAIL pledged to support the newly delivered vehicles, including through operator training, maintenance, and spares.

EPAIL first displayed a Mengshi with its badge on in August 2023 – three months later, Nigerian defence ministry officials were seen inspecting Menghis being produced at an EPAIL factory – according to Janes, the vehicles are the Dongfeng EQ2063 model. In addition to local manufacture, EPAIL plans to offer the vehicle for export.

The Nigerian Army is already a Mengshi operator, with the type being seen in service since at least November 2021 when Mengshis and CS/VP3s were also spotted after delivery. Apparently 100 Mengshi vehicles were imported from China – in August 2020, DongFeng announced that an undisclosed African country had ordered 100 Mengshi (Warrior) 4×4 armoured vehicles through Poly Technologies – this was most likely Nigeria.

The Mengshi family of 4×4 vehicles was initially developed by Dongfeng from the license-built Humvee, while later generations of the vehicles are of indigenous design. The version supplied to Nigeria appears to be the largely indigenously developed CSK-131 variant, which accommodates a driver and five passengers or a 2 000 kg payload.

The CSK-131 can mount various weapons on top of the roof and can be fitted with a shielded machine gun position or remotely-controlled weapon station. It has been seen armed with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun, and 35 mm automatic grenade launcher.

Nigeria has acquired significant amounts of military equipment from China, including Type 89 tracked infantry fighting vehicles, VT-4 main battle tanks, ST-1 8×8 tank destroyers and SH-5 105 mm self-propelled howitzers. However, the country is also pursuing an extensive domestic manufacturing strategy and is acquiring armoured vehicles from local manufacturers such as Proforce (Ara), DICON (Ezugwu), and the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAVMC).