The Nigerian military has received another batch of Beryl M762 assault rifles from Poland, after ordering 1 000 last year.
The Nigerian military ordered 1 000 Beryl assault rifles in 2014 from Fabryka Broni Lucznik, for delivery in January this year under a $1 million contract. Nigerian Army personnel underwent training in Radom, Poland, according to Tomasz Nita, chief executive of Fabryka Broni Lucznik, who added that 2014’s sale was the first export order for the type.
Now Fabryka Broni has delivered a second batch of 500 Beryl M762 assault rifles under a $500 000 contract signed earlier this year, the company announced this month. Ten Mini-Beryl M556 5.56×45 mm weapons were also transferred to Nigeria’s land forces.
The M762 is a 7.62×39 mm version of the Polish Army’s 5.56×45 mm Beryl M556 (wz. 96C) service rifle. It can use standard AK-47 magazines; has a single shot, thee-round burst and full automatic fire selector; a handguard with three Picatinny rails; another top-mounted Picatinny rail; a telescopic buttstock; and ergonomic grips, IHS Jane’s notes. The weapon has a range of 600 metres.
Company board president Edward Migal said that Fabryka Broni’s products are characterised by high reliability in adverse conditions, attracting repeat customers such as Nigeria.
At the time of the order for 1 000 rifles in 2014, Fabryka Broni said it could follow up with another order for a further 5 000 riles this year.
The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) produces small arms and ammunition for the Nigerian Army and other security agencies, and has produced an assault rifle similar to the AK-47 in addition to developing 60 and 81 mm mortars. However, Nigeria still imports small arms – for instance, according to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, in 2013 Nigeria received 1 500 Serbian pistols and 2 270 Serbian light machineguns.
On Friday Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria planned to ramp up the domestic production of weapons for its armed forces, in an effort to cut the country’s dependence on imported arms.
“The Ministry of Defence is being tasked to draw up clear and measurable outlines for development of a modest military industrial complex for Nigeria,” Buhari said during a speech at the National Defence College in Abuja.
He said he wanted an overhaul of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria. Its factory in the northern city of Kaduna now mainly produces rifles and civilian tools, said Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu, adding that defence chiefs had been asked to “re-engineer” DICON.
“We must evolve viable mechanisms for near-self-sufficiency in military equipment and logistics production complemented only by very advanced foreign technologies,” said the president, a former military ruler.
Buhari took office on May 29 after an election victory earlier in the year that owed much to his vow to defeat militant Islamist group Boko Haram, whose six-year-old insurgency aims to set up an caliphate in northeast Nigeria.
Nigeria’s military has repeatedly said it needs better weapons to fight the militants, who have killed thousands and left about 1.5 million people displaced in Africa’s most populous country.
Buhari said Nigeria’s dependence on other countries for critical military equipment was unacceptable. The administration led by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, turned to foreign suppliers.
Last year a dispute developed between Nigeria and South Africa after South Africa seized $15 million in funds which Nigeria said was for legitimate deals procuring weapons for its armed forces.
On Tuesday a group of visiting U.S. Congress members said Washington could lift its ban on shipping arms to Nigeria’s military to help fight the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, if Abuja improved its human rights record.
Since taking office, Buhari has replaced his defence chiefs and moved the headquarters of the military operation against Boko Haram to Maiduguri, the heart of the insurgency.
And he has worked with Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin to set up an 8,700-strong multinational force to tackle the militants, who have killed over 600 people in Nigeria since his inauguration.