The Nigerian Air Force and Army have revealed new acquisitions and plans to acquire additional equipment, including domestically built armoured vehicles.
During a firepower demonstration at Army Camp Kabala in Jaji, Kaduna state on 27 April, the Nigerian Army unveiled new surveillance equipment including Thales Ground Observer 12 lightweight surveillance radars, delivered earlier this year, and Thales Sophie-LR handheld thermal imagers, delivered in 2018. Jane’s Defence Weekly reports that what appeared to be a Hensoldt Spexer 2000 ground surveillance radar was also displayed.
The Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAVMC), which was formally commissioned on 26 January this year, displayed a prototype 4×4 armoured personnel carrier and mine roller gear. The company is developing three vehicles, including an off-road buggy and two armoured vehicles called the NAC-V and NA-IPV 2. Both are 4×4 and feature 360 degree enclosed turrets.
Nigerian Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai said the NAVMC needs at least N1 billion ($2.7 million) of investment, which the Army is sourcing to build vehicles to combat terrorists and insurgents.
“Nigeria has recently been bedevilled by different forms of insurgencies: Boko Haram, kidnapping, armed banditry, armed robbery and cattle rustling, but the demonstration of locally made bullet proof ballistic vests, NA armoured light tactical vehicles and mine sweepers produced by NAVMC showed that the military will soon be better equipped to stem the challenge”, Buratai added.
“You have been promised by the group managing director of NAVMC that in the next three to four months, we should have brand new vehicles originally produced by the Nigerian Army for use in the Army and the general public that may find it useful, especially the paramilitary agencies.
“We are already sourcing for the sum of N1 billion to support the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company. We have a number of investments in the Army that have been generating huge amount of money and we will take a loan from there to support Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company to realize our dream of producing indigenous armoured fighting vehicles and to continue to maintain our existing equipment.”
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), meanwhile, on 29 April displayed the first two new A109 Power helicopters during its 55th anniversary celebrations, which began on the 27th. The helicopters, which arrived last month, were fitted with rocket and gun pods. Nigeria has two more on order from Italy’s Leonardo Helicopters.
Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said that the NAF had grown in size, spread and equipment to fulfil its obligation of protecting and defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria from the air. “We have also continued to build upon the foundations laid by our noble predecessors by reactivating several aircraft that were hitherto grounded; acquired and inducted various platforms into service and increased the strength of Service personnel by 7 500 airmen/airwomen and 400 officers. Additionally, 2 new commands and 2 staff branches were established to meet the evolving security challenges we are faced with”, he said.
“Furthermore, the gap between force projection and force protection capability has been substantially bridged with the training of more than 1 000 Special Forces. These personnel have been deployed as part of the Base Defence forces to deal with the threat to our bases and to support Internal Security Operations in various troubled spots across the country, especially in the North East, North Central and North West, respectively.” Paramount Marauder vehicles recently delivered from South Africa were displayed by Nigerian Air Force personnel.
Ahead of Air Force Day, Air Commodore Nnamdi Ananaba, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the 2019 NAF Day Celebrations, said the NAF will be soon taking delivery of four new A109 Power, one Mi-35M and one AW139 helicopters, as well as 12 Super Tucano light attack/trainer turboprops. The Super Tucanos will be delivered in 2022. “The NAF within the last three years has taken delivery of 16 brand new aircraft (10 Super Mushshak, four Mi-35M and two Bell 412 helicopters),” he said.
In addition to new aircraft, the NAF has been reactivating grounded aircraft. The service is progressing with restoring a third EC 135 helicopter to airworthiness. It was handed over to the NAF by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Completion of the work will bring to 15 the number of previously unserviceable aircraft that have been reactivated in the last four years.
Most of these reactivations as well as the ongoing Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) on various aircraft types, including two C-130H Hercules, three Alpha Jets and three L-39ZA aircraft, are being done in-country.
Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali, recently revealed that the Nigerian Army over the last three years had procured 35 main battle tanks, 25 Typhoon MRAPs, 10 Spartan APCs, 20 Armoured Guard Booths, five armoured mine-clearing vehicles, 50 TCVs and 40 Buffalo vehicles. The Navy has received four ships, 182 Rigid Hull Inflatable and Epenal Boats, four Inshore Patrol Craft, two STAN Patrol Vessels and one helicopter.