Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, the Nigerian Army’s Chief of Staff, has paid a visit to Proforce’s facilities as part of growing collaboration between the Nigerian Army and Nigeria’s largest armoured vehicle manufacturer.
Proforce said the visit on 22 September was an endorsement of the Proforce brand especially as Proforce is a major supplier to the Nigerian Army and its vehicles have been proven in battle in Nigeria, as well as Chad and other parts of Africa.
The COAS was given a comprehensive tour of Proforce’s facilities and capabilities, including its corporate vehicle armouring facility, Helmets and Vests manufacturing section, and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility. The latter repairs Nigerian Army vehicles like the Cobra and Steyr armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and Navistar and Caiman mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles.
Other areas of competence showcased to the COAS were Proforce’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and trainer jet facilities as well as the company’s military communications, signals intelligence (SIGINT), open-source and web intelligence (OSINT), and naval capabilities.
The Nigerian Army through its investment arm, Nigerian Army Welfare Limited by Guarantee (AWLG) has acquired a 15% shareholding of Proforce Limited. As a result, the Nigerian Army collaborates closely with Proforce, as well as other domestic armoured vehicle manufacturers.
During his factory visit, the COAS said it is best to acquire military hardware that has been developed and manufactured indigenously. Local manufacture develops the domestic industry, facilitates economic growth and saves foreign exchange as locally built vehicles are generally cheaper to acquire and maintain. The Federal Government of Nigeria is also promoting the acquisition of local equipment and Proforce is helping support the Nigerian Army’s desire to be self-sufficient.
Proforce was established in 2008 and is Nigeria’s largest private armoured vehicle manufacturer, currently employing over 1 000 staff. The company makes armoured tactical vehicles, armoured personnel carriers for the military and police, mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles, ballistic helmets and vests, armoured cash-in-transit, armoured private and commercial passenger vehicles. It has also expanded its portfolio to cover armoured patrol boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, amongst others.
The company’s flagship APC is its PF2, which has been exported to Rwanda, the Central African Republic and South Sudan (it is used for United Nations peacekeeping missions in the CAR and South Sudan). At home, the Nigerian Police Force has acquired a number of PF2 APCs, and this includes by Rivers State and Lagos State.
The 3.2 ton PF2 is armoured against multiple calibre ammunition up to 7.62×51 mm, as well as against grenades and landmines (it can withstand 10 kg blasts) in excess of Stanag 4569 Level 1. It is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser chassis and is powered by a six cylinder, four litre engine giving a top speed of 110 km/h and range of 650 km. Payload is between 800 and 1000 kg or 6-8 people. The vehicle has eight gun ports and can mount a turret on the roof. Standard equipment includes an electric winch, air conditioning, public address system and strobe lights.
On the larger end of the scale, Proforce’s flagship MRAP is its Ara (Thunder), which is designed and manufactured in Nigeria. The latest version of the Ara features a fully monocoque hull and is built to STANAG level 4569 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. Run flat inserts in the wheels can maintain mobility up to a distance of 50-60 km in case a tyre is punctured.
With the capacity to carry up to 12 personnel plus equipment, the 15 ton Ara 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.
The Nigerian Army has placed large orders for the Ara and has used the vehicles in combat against Boko Haram insurgents, particularly in the northeast of the country. Deliveries began in 2018, and in mid-2019 Proforce secured an order from Chad for 20 improved Ara 2 armoured personnel carriers – these have been delivered and are in service with Chad’s military.
The main Proforce armoured vehicle manufacturing plant is located in Ode Remo and has the capacity to produce 20 units per month of the Ara and 40 units per month of the PF2. Proforce has another manufacturing plant at Port Harcourt to supply orders from the South-South regions of Nigeria.
In line with its goal of being a leading worldwide armoured vehicle and defence equipment manufacturer, Proforce has acquired a 100 hectare parcel of land along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. This will incorporate an armoured vehicle manufacturing plant; a UAV manufacturing facility; Electronic Equipment Factory for the manufacturing of radios and jammers; an ammunition factory; research and development centre; training school; vehicle testing track; firing range; and armoured glass manufacturing factory.
To support the local sourcing of materials and equipment, Proforce previously acquired a steel rolling mill. This is expected to enhance more local content in terms of producing ballistic steel used for Proforce armoured vehicles and help the company to be self-reliant in armoured vehicle manufacturing. Proforce’s Steel Rolling Mill, known as Sun Metals, is located in Ota, Ogun State, and has installed production capacity of over 350 000 metric tons per annum. Proforce said production of ballistic steel will be the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa and most of the products will be exported to countries within and outside Africa. Sun Metals Ltd already supplies aluminium ingots to Toyota for light skin vehicle manufacturing.
Diverse product range
In addition to its flagship Ara and PF2 vehicles, Proforce has a steadily growing product portfolio that encompasses land, air and sea. This includes armoured Toyota Hilux vehicles, Special Combat Vehicles (Hilux type vehicles with armour and weapons turrets), armoured patrol boats between 9.5 and 11 metres long, cash in transit vehicles (Toyota Hiace, Hilux, Isuzu etc.), armoured SUVs (e.g. Land Cruiser, Mercedes, Lexus LX570, Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, FJ Cruiser), armoured passenger busses (Mercedes Viano, Toyota etc.) and armoured sedans.
The Hilux-based Improvised Armoured Combat Vehicles (IACVs) have been supplied to the Nigerian Air Force, and have been used in counter-insurgency operations in northeast Nigeria as well as for anti-kidnapping and anti-robbery operations in the Niger Delta region. Proforce has also supplied armoured cash in transit vehicles to some banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria.
The company’s body armour range includes helmets, ballistic vests, ballistic jackets and hard and soft armour plates/panels, and is designed to meet international standards. The ballistic helmets and vests factory is operated by Proforce sister company under the name WMO Gadgets, based at Ode Remo in Ogun state. c
Boat building is handled by Proforce sister company Deto Shipyards, which was established specifically for the manufacturing of armoured patrol boats and vessels. Deto Shipyards, with plants in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Badore, Lagos State, can manufacture a wide range of custom-built, multi-purpose armoured patrol vessels, including riverine boats, gun boats, patrol boats, frigates and offshore patrol vessels. Proforce has supplied armoured patrol boats to the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).
In addition to vehicle, boat and personal protective equipment manufacturing, Proforce offers after sales support and repairs of armoured vehicles; the leasing of armoured vehicles; operative training; command and control as well as communications systems; software and raw materials distribution services.