Turkey clinches Nigerian border security contract

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In recent years, the Nigerian military has fostered relationships with Turkish defence companies, acquiring equipment ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to offshore patrol vessels. Now, Turkish companies have been called in to secure Nigeria’s borders.

Nigeria, grappling with diverse challenges spanning counter-terrorism, banditry and border security, has discovered a dependable ally in Turkey to fulfil its UAV requirements. Turkey’s reputation in the realm of UAV, or drone, technology is well-established, with its domestically developed UAVs gaining international acclaim for their performance in various conflict zones.

Recently, Turkish defence firm Asisguard signed a $36.5 million contract with Nigeria to supply a border and internal security system. The contract was inked in May and covers armed UAVs, vehicles, surveillance cameras and related technology. Other Turkish defence companies are involved in the project, including Havelsan, STM, and Nurol Makina. 

Asisguard is providing Installation and systems integration while Havelsan is providing command and control software and BAHA UAVs; Nurol Makina is supplying Yoruk 4×4 armoured vehicles; and STM is supplying its TOGAN UAVs.

Baris Duzgun, CEO and General Manager of Asisguard, told Time News that the Nigerian border security contract was the result of two years of effort, and was clinched because the partnership with Nurol Makina, Havelsan and STM allowed for the supply of a complete solution. He said the contract will lead to others in Africa and should give momentum to sales on the continent for the next decade.

UAV proliferation

Turkey is supplying both fixed and rotary wing UAVs for Nigeria. The rotary wing side is catered to by STM’s TOGAN, designed for tactical-level reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence (ISR) missions and equipped with various sensors, including a camera and a thermal imager. TOGAN has a range of 6.5 to 10 kilometres, a top speed of 72 km/h, a maximum takeoff weight of 7 kg and an operating altitude of 1 000 metres.

Havelsan last month confirmed the export of its BAHA ‘Sub-Cloud Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’ to an undisclosed African country, which is understood to be Nigeria. BAHA, a small fixed-wing UAV, is tailored for tactical-level reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence missions. It can be equipped with an array of sensors, including a camera and thermal imager. The system has a range of up to 80 kilometres with an endurance of six hours with a petrol engine (up to two hours with an electric motor). BAHA can also carry a payload of up to 5 kg.

Deepening defence ties

The latest Nigerian contract with Turkish defence companies marks the continuation of a military relationship that has evolved over the years. Turkey has supplied Nigeria with military hardware to support its efforts in combating Boko Haram and other terrorist groups and will, amongst others, be delivering six T-129 attack helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries, two offshore patrol vessels from Dearsan, and six Bayraktar TB2 UAVs from Baykar.

Asisguard previously supplied its Songar armed rotary wing UAV to the Nigerian Police Force. Deliveries concluded in September 2022 after about ten were delivered. Unveiled in 2019, the Songar multicopter can be fitted with a machinegun, 40 mm grenade launcher or 81 mm mortar. It can also be fitted with a day/night camera gimbal and laser range finder.

In a related development, STM earlier this month announced another African country had ordered its TOGAN UAV. It released a photo showing African operators training on the aircraft and based on the uniforms, it appears the second customer could be Uganda. STM is apparently in negotiations with several other African nations for potential TOGAN exports.