The Nigerian Army has ordered 28 Ezugwu armoured personnel carriers for counter-terrorism/insurgency missions, a month after the vehicle was unveiled by the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON).
The Nigerian Army on 12 November announced that it had formalised an agreement with DICON and the Command Engineering Depot on the mass production of the Ezugwu. The agreement was signed by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun and the Director General of DICON, Major General Victor Ezugwu (after whom the vehicle is named) at the Army Headquarters Abuja.
The Army said the move is in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria local content policy, where the Army has been working to locally meet basic requirements in the areas of light weapons, armoured personnel carriers and infantry equipment. This reduces reliance on foreign countries and helps Nigeria address its security challenges.
Buratai, through Adeosun, commended DICON for its commitment to developing local content and the capacity of Nigerian Army engineers to solve the nation’s security problems. “We are gathered here today to actualise one of the lofty dreams of the Army in reducing the challenges of having to rely on everything from outside Nigeria in terms of lethal equipment for the Nigerian Army.
“All of us are fully aware of the challenges that the Nigerian Army and Nigeria as a country has continued to face in all attempt to acquire all important military equipment for Nigerian armed forces particularly the army. We will go ahead to sign the agreement for the first ever locally produced MRAPs [Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles] by the Nigerian Army in collaboration with DICON and Command Engineering Depot in phases of the contract agreement,” he said.
The Director General of DICON said that the first batch of ten vehicles in production at its factory in Kaduna would be delivered in December 2019. He said it has been less than a year since the prototype was produced and became ready for production.
The Ezugwu was unveiled for the first time in late September by Buratai at the Abuja International Trade Fair Complex during a Nigerian Army Day event. It is armoured against small arms fire and using flat-bottom armour technology, its hull can withstand a 7 kg TNT explosion whilst each wheel can withstand a 12 kg TNT explosion. It carries a crew of 12: commander, driver, two gunners and eight soldiers. Unusually, the vehicle has two weapons turrets which can traverse 360 degrees and a telescopic long range camera for improved situational awareness.
The 4×4 Ezugwu is fitted with an independent suspension system and is powered by a Chinese WD615 turbodiesel engine.
It is believed the Ezugwu was designed on a Tatra 4×4 chassis, according to African Military Blog. The Nigerian Army apparently plans to acquire 130 Ezugwu vehicles.
The Nigerian military has been increasing its share of locally produced weapons, with Proforce delivering its domestically manufactured Ara APCs to the Army. In August, another four vehicles were taken into service, bringing the total to about 20. Proforce has also sold Aras to Chad, which finalised a contract for 20 in June this year.
The recently established Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAVMC) is developing several armoured vehicles for the Nigerian military. These include an Infantry Patrol Vehicle (IPV) fitted with a mounted heavy machinegun; a Tactical Patrol Vehicle with seating for eight personnel, and a Light Tactical Vehicle armoured personnel carrier.