The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has taken delivery of its two AW109 helicopter from Italy’s Leonardo Helicopters. They will be used as part of the Deep Blue maritime security project.
NIMASA Director General/CEO Bashir Jamoh on 28 March Tweeted photos of the AW109s being unloaded at a Nigerian port.
“The NIMASA special mission helicopters have arrived in the country and are currently heading to a secure location to be re-assembled for deployment in a matter of days,” he said. “These NIMASA special mission helicopters will alongside the special mission aircraft and UAV drone system collectively constitute the air component of our Integrated Maritime Security architecture. We’re committed to policing our waters for our economic prosperity.”
Photos of the AW109s undergoing test flights in Italy surfaced in November 2020. One was seen with registration CSX81999 (msn 22425).
At the end of February Nigeria’s Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said Nigeria would commission $195 million worth of aircraft, boats and vehicles in the next three months to strengthen security in the pirate-infested Gulf of Guinea under the Deep Blue Project. This includes two special mission vessels, two aircraft, two helicopters, four UAVs, 16 armoured vehicles and 17 fast interceptor boats.
The fast interceptors are De Haas Maasluis DHM1050 boats from the Netherlands, while the aircraft are Cessna Citation CJ3s modified for the maritime surveillance role by Israel’s BIRD Aerosystems. In February 2020 NIMASA received the special mission vessels DB Abuja and DB Lagos from Shipyard De Hoop in the Netherlands. The 55 metre long vessels were developed for round the clock operations and are capable of remaining on station autonomously for at least thirty days.
The unmanned aerial vehicles appear to be RemoEye 002Bs manufactured by South Korea’s Uconsystems. The type has a wingspan of 1.8 metres, top speed of 80 km/h, endurance of 60 minutes and range of 10 km, according to the manufacturer.
Proforce is supplying armoured personnel carriers to NIMASA, which will use them to strengthen security on the Niger Delta through land patrols. It is not clear what model of vehicle Proforce is delivering for the Deep Blue project.
The Deep Blue project aims to combat issues such as illegal fishing, terrorism, oil theft, illegal immigration, smuggling and piracy in Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone and the Gulf of Guinea. Israeli company Blue Octagon is sourcing much of the hardware for Deep Blue, which also includes a command, control, computer communication, and information (C4I) centre, which began 24 hour operations in August 2019 at the Nimasa base in Kirikiri, Lagos.