Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Photo Credit: Military Factory

What is this that I see – a Harbin Z-9EC onboard a 95 metre 1,440 ton Type 056 corvette? Well, we did say that earlier on in the year, we saw Type 054 frigates and Type 056 corvettes patrolling the waters around James Shoal in the disputed South China Sea and that Z-9EC helicopters could be seen taking off from the frigates and corvettes alike!

Anyway, Nigeria’s 95 metre 1,800 ton P18N stealth OPVs under construction in China have been described as enlarged OPV variants of the Type 056 corvette. That means we should be looking to acquire US$11million Harbin Z-9EC anti submarine warfare helicopters to go with those as well.

Last week, we recommended a US$450 million swoop on military hardware during the course of this week’s high-level visit to China. We recommended that Nigeria pay US$175 million and get China EXIM Bank to offer US$275 million in preferential buyers credit, to facilitate the procurement of

– three Type 056 corvettes
– three Harbin Z-9EC ASW helicopters
– twelve Hongdu L15 Falcon AT/LA jets
– 100 WZ-551 APCs
* plus a FREE, refurbished Type 53H2 frigate thrown in as sweetener


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. beegeagle says:

    PHOTO CREDIT: thepeopleofpakistan


    PHOTO CREDIT: thepeopleofpakistan

    PHOTO CREDIT: Times of Pakistan


    These electronic warfare/anti submarine warfare helicopters are equipped with pulse-compression radar, low-frequency dipping sonar, radar
    warning receiver and Doppler navigation system.

    They are armed with torpedoes and are ‘reportedly capable of launching C802/C803 anti-ship missiles’

    • eyimola says:

      Yeah beautiful bird. We need two per ship. Including an extra two for the Thunder.

      By the way, the unnamed African customers for either the 6 Isreali OPVs or the Shaldags is probably Guinea. (Not Equatorial Guinea). Everyone is kitting up.

      • beegeagle says:

        Well, Gen Eyimola, it is almost certain that these Shaldags belong to Guinea.

        Guinea used to own six well-armed Shanghai II coastal patrol craft. Those are now all gone and with the Shaldag just as potent and even more hi-tech, Guinea are almost certainly acquiring six units of Shaldag FPCs to replace their retired fleet of six Shanghai II CPCs.

  2. beegeagle says:

    That is good to know.

    Six OPVs….absolutely priced beyond what Guinea’s known reach, manpower levels and support capabilities can sustain. Guinea are more into small and well-armed (sub-38 metre) patrol craft.

    To that extent, it is much more likely that they are the customer for the Shaldag FPCs, in which case a haul of six state-of-the-art Mk. V units would be absolutely fantastic and tantamount to acquiring an instant navy. Excellent value for money since Shaldags operate in turbulent waters which far exceed what their size suggests. These would help them to tightly police their EEZ, keep the sealanes open for the export of iron ore (royalties from new mining concessions for iron ore would almost certainly have paid for these little ships) and also keep the druglords of Guinea Bissau nextdoor, OUT.

    Great push by Guinea. A country that small knows how to give a big push which makes a dent. That is why they grabbed SIX UNITS of the futuristic Shaldag Mk.V.

    Compared to Nigeria’s earning power and absolutely more turbulent EEZ, tell me why Nigeria do not have the courage to reach for twelve Shaldag FPCs in one loop, instead of always agonising about competing demands. Guinea have no concerns for infrastructure or do not have competing demands? Imagine a minister telling the NN that they would get more PATROL CRAFT (not OPVs, corvettes or frigates) if they put the two new Shaldag and three OCEA patrol craft to good use. Baiting? Toying with our national defence?

    We need better service from our decision makers o. We truly do.

  3. beegeagle says:

    As for the helicopter-ship pairing, there we have it. No excuse to falter or under-achieve.

    The Type 056 corvette was inspired by the Pattani-class missile OPVs built for Thailand by China. The Thai OPVs worked well, have seen action in Somalia and China keyed into the vision for their own benefit. Thus, the similar-sized Type 056 corvette was born.

    From the Type 056 corvette which went into service with the PLA Navy less than a year ago, inspiration was again drawn for our own enlarged 1,800 ton P18N stealth OPVs.

    If the 1,440 ton Type 056 corvette can handle a Harbin Z-9EC ASW/SAR helic, there is no reason why our own ENLARGED 1,800 ton stealth OPVs which were inspired by the same ship and remains very similar in most respects, should not arrive with full service by Z-9ECs.

    Our Westland Lynx Mk.89 ASW helics have been rested for over 15 years now. About time we reached for ASW helics again. We should be making progress and not lapsing into retrogression. We have Agusta A109e SAR helics for law enforcement and EEZ patrols. We also need ASW helics for the navy’s primary mission – maritime warfare.

    That said, it makes a lot of sense to go beyond the start-up haul which I itemised above. For each of those P18Ns, we need an embarked ASW helic since we have refused to have them tipped with even a token two-cell C802 AShM system.

    For the suggested haul of SSM/SAM-armed Type 056 corvettes, we also need three Z-9ECs which are dual-purpose ASW-SAR airframes really. If we get the refurbished Type 53H2 frigate, we should knock of the main gun on the aft deck to make way for an embarked Z-9EC.

    That means we should be looking to grab a minimum of six Z-9EC helics. It would be a boon to have three more based onshore or onboard a Daewoo Makassar-class LPD standing ready to serve the NNS Thunder. We still have yet to reach for the US$50 million Makassar LPD. Perhaps when the price doubles, we shall go into stampede mode. We tend to make a meal of every minor issue which ought to have been rested an eon ago. A US$50 million LPD which carries as much as both our old LSTs in men and materiel and is a helicopter carrier yet we need some prodding before we pounce? Incredible really. I mean, the acquisition of LPDs is written into the NN’s Ten Year Acquisition Plan. So what’s the slack all about?

  4. beegeagle says:


    Artist's impression of the 95m OPVs to be built in China

    Artist’s impression of the 95m OPVs to be built in China


    (Published in the
    Quarter Deck Notice Board)


    President Goodluck Jonathan has given approval for the purchase of 2 new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) for the Nigerian Navy.

    The vessels are 1800T OPVs with long bridge, twin rudders and twin controllable pitch propellers powered by 2 diesel engines. They are mainly to be used for maritime surveillance, patrol and response tasks.

    Other roles of the vessels would be protection of offshore assets, EEZ patrol and surveillance, search and rescue and certain capabilities of oil spillage control at sea.

    The first of the 2 OPVs will be built in China while about 50% of the second ship construction will be completed in Nigeria.

    This acquisition is expected to bolster NN presence at sea to meet the current and emerging threats. The general characteristics of the OPVs are as follows:

    Length Overall – 95m.

    Length on designed water level – 89m.

    Designed draft – 3.5m.

    Speed – 21 knots.

    NN Patrol Boat

    Endurance – 20 days.

    Main Engines –
    2 x MTU 20V 4000M.

    Complement – 70 persons.

    Helicopter Hanger – Capable of carrying a helicopter and supporting its operations.

    76mm Gun
    2 x 30 mm gun

    It is envisaged that major parts of the second OPV will be built in Nigeria, thus would enhance capacity of the NN in shipbuilding, which would equally guarantee the much needed technology transfer.

    PS: Thank you XNur44 for bringing this latest development to our notice, sir


  5. Max Montero says:

    Hi General Beeg, for your Chinese-made OPVs, it would best to pair with Z-9s from China. No doubt it would fit the ship. By the way, the Type 056 corvettes used by China doesn’t have a hangar, only a helipad. So your OPVs are a notch higher in terms of keeping a ship-based helicopter asset especially on long patrols.


  6. beegeagle says:

    Got that, Admiral Max. I really think so too. Square pegs for square holes. The Chinese have entered already – F7 AirGuard jets and P18N stealth OPVs. We might as well seek lateral integration for one-stop solutions for all systems onboard….comprehensive maintenance arrangements, that is.

    How is it going in The Philippines, my friend?

    • Max Montero says:

      So far just the same, although there were some movements in the equipment purchases, with the bidding procedures for the 2 strategic sealift vessel aka small LPD already started, with the 8 armed scout helos for the air force next on the line also this month. Their delivery is important since they will cover the 20+ MD-520MG gunships that the air force currently has that are scheduled for a service life extension program. The OV-10 replacement bidding is also underway soon. The defense department will hire a technical consultant for the purchase of new light frigates, while the 2nd Hamilton ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz is on its way to Hawaii from San Diego as we write. So far, no Harpoons. No word if a 3rd Hamilton is in the works, also no word from the recent Israeli expedition. Delivery of surplus 100+ M113A2 from the US is also expected this year. The KAI FA-50 purchase is expected to be signed when our president visits Korea in August. A contract for 50,000+ Remington M4s for the Marines and Army is also impending as post bid qualification inspections were completed. All others projects are in the pipeline as they are all expected to be delivered before 2016. A possible request for more budget from this year’s Congress is also expected, if approved, expected more projects to be started.

      Since you are having close ties with China, it would be best to take advantage of what they can offer. China is a known shrewd investor, so take every chance you have to get goodies from them as much as Nigeria can. Those older Type 053 frigates are already being given away to customers, so Nigeria must not miss the chance on them. Those Z-9s are really dirt cheap compared to what is in the market now. We almost had a chance on them during closer PH-PRC relations during the previous administration, only to find out that they are after our territories and oil deposits, putting us in the position we are now with regards to relations with China.


  7. beegeagle says:

    Yeah, that is true. Our P18N stealth OPVs have hangars and are 360 tonnes larger (that is the size of a Combattante III 58 metre ship) than the Type 056 corvette which have helipads.

    Methinks both ship types would do well in Nigerian service. We should follow up the OPV deal with an order for three Type 056 corvettes with a used Type 53H2 thrown into the bargain and six Z-9EC helics.

    Then we can put together one-stop maintenance plans for all six OPVs, corvettes and frigate and six helicopters. The chances of staying at sea would be greatly enhanced, not to mention the advantage of bring together a compact mix of oceangoing patrol and fighting ships and ASW+SAR helics. Great idea for 2013.

    For special interventions, get the oil industry regulator, NNPC, to get eight decommissioned 41 metre Fremantle long-range patrol craft for about US$20m. Cannibalise two for spares and refurbish six units in Nigeria at a cost of US$15m. A total of US$35 million entailed.

    The Presidency, with its access to extrabudgetary sources of security-related finance, should get the pair of decommissioned Type 122 frigates from Germany for US$80 million, including refurbishment costs.

    Thereafter, we can move on to three new Knud Rasmussen 1720 ton torpedo+SAM-armed OPVsin 2014 which can be supported by Agusta helics. US$150m.

  8. giles says:

    pls oga beeg wot of d OPV to be built by india is it still onboard or it has been canceled

    • Max Montero says:

      Which Indian shipbuilder offered an OPV to Nigeria? I’m curious since Larsen & Toubro Shipbuilding just started pushing their products to the PN. Any idea on their products?


  9. beegeagle says:

    No contract has been signed as we speak, Giles whereas construction work on the P18N stealth OPVs has commenced – since October 2012.

    They might as well convert the funds(about US$450 million) to other purposes. SURELY, that would get us another P18N stealth OPV and three Type 056 corvettes (plus a free ‘refurb’ Type 53H2 frigate), six Harbin Z-9EC anti submarine helics AND both decommissioned German Type 122A frigates.

    That is an instant navy right there. Hopefully, no dulling on that.

    • Max Montero says:

      Between India and China, I believe that Indian shipbuilding quality is way better. But China is catching up in terms of technology, and China’s finishing moves has always been pricing. Is India making a strong push in the Nigerian economy lately? I am thinking that they are starting to counter China’s push by going to countries where Chinese influence is strong. So I was expecting a strong Indian presence in Nigeria’s economy sooner or later.


      • beegeagle says:

        🙂 Admiral Max, is that assessment in any way affected by the reality of The Philippines and China being at loggerheads over the Spratlys Islands – reason why your country are unlikely to turn to China for military hardware?

        Well, the commercial successes attained by Chinese military products do not support that assessment. From the basic Shanghai II CPC which was a huge commercial success to the current scramble for missile craft and frigates, the nations of the world appear to be voting more for Chinese ships.

      • Max Montero says:

        Hi again General Beeg, no that assessment is not because of our issues on security, but India has been long in the shipbuilding business and accepted British and Russian technical assistance in the past. But it is true that China has made great strides and India feels the pressure of being left behind by its bigger neighbor. India has not made it with exports due to its inward attitude in the past, unlike China which has been an alternative source for arms for countries that either faced embargo from Western governments, or were short in cash. As for the Shanghai II FAC, admittedly it was effective for its price, and it started the Chinese military shipbuilding export success.

        India lacks the outward attitude of the Chinese, thus they were left behind not only in shipbuilding but in general as well, including trade. That’s why I was asking about India’s push into Africa if it already felt or not yet, in Asia they are starting to move on countries where China is making its presence felt.


    • Max Montero says:

      General Beeg, were you able to follow the recent Thailand frigate purchase worth US$1 billion?

      China offered 3 Type 054A Jiangkai plus 3 Z-9s for the price, while Korea offered 2 frigates based on Daewoo’s DW3000H design. German and Italian shipbuilders also joined but lost. Bang for the buck, the Chinese offer was the best deal, getting 3 frigates plus 3 ASW helicopters while the nearest competitor only offered 2 ships. The Daewoo design ultimately won, to the surprise of many. Thai sources cited that they originally want European ships but can’t afford to have 2 for the budget. They rejected the Jiangkais due to issues of commonality & compatibility with their current assets (now Thai Navy is using mostly Western weapons and systems on their ships, the Jiangkais reportedly can’t accept Western systems and are not compatible as well), although there were also concerns on shipbuilding quality since they did admit that their Chinese made ships had quality issues in the past.

      Separately, Pakistan has been buying Chinese ships, with the F-22P Zulfiquar class just recently completed, and yes they have Z-9s. No word though from the Pakistanis if their ships are having problems, but it appears they are happy with them and it is expected that they will have a follow-on order after bungling their relations with the Americans, affecting the transfer of more Perry class frigates.

      I highlighted both cases as something to ponder to since Nigeria is in the process of getting Chinese ships. Both cases does not cover the totality of China’s shipbuilding industry, but are good examples for the sake of discussion.

      • beegeagle says:

        By the way, all the frigates mentioned are somewhat overpriced. The Type 054 should be US$250 million with a Z-9 ASW helic embarked, given China’s modest production costs.

        The DW3000H of Korea is mad overpriced. Won’t touch it. US$500 million apiece? Brother, quantity is a quality of its own.

        Instead, I would do four F22 frigates with Z-9 helics embarked plus four Type 056 corvettes. Those eight ships would wreck both overpriced Korean frigates at sea.

      • Max Montero says:

        Hi General Beeg, for pricing of military hardware it would be very difficult to compare exactly what was offered to one country with another since prices usually come as a package and may include items and services that differ from each contract package. So although there are sources saying the Type 054A with a Z9 costs around $250M, it may differ when China offered to Thailand. But most sources pointed out that $1B included 3 Type 054T (special thai model) plus 3 Z-9 ASW helicopters. Ammunition appears to be not specified but may be included in the package.

        As for the DW3000H, you have to consider that it was offered with Western systems onboard, but this was exactly the reason why t was chosen by the Thais because of integration to their present systems and supply chains. Specified were data link compatibility, Western type radar, sonar, comms, EW, ECM, and other sensors, plus the Harpoon and ESSM missiles. The offer was around $450M per ship without helicopter. The Germans reportedly offered their Meko family similar to South Africa’s Valour class, but the price for 2 frigates exceeded $1B, putting it way above the budget.

        We have to consider that modern warfare involves overall awareness, and cohesiveness of forces including those of allied countries. If the Thais chose the Type 054T, it would be difficult to integrate them into their current force spectrum due to incompatibility of systems. Although they operate Chinese ships, they are also using Western systems, with the Naresuan class recently undergoing upgrades and refitting.


  10. beegeagle says:

    Hey Max, how are you?

    Well, if the Type 054 Jiangkai area defence frigates do not accept COTS technologies and systems, that does not necessarily make them bad frigates. Their VLS capabilities, not to mention C803s, remain fearsome. COTS compatibility never was the benchmark for assessing the quality of a warship. If Thailand opted for the Korean frigates because they seek compatibility with existing assets, that is another matter but I would not necessarily lapse into the old refrain of quality issues which sounds like a throwback to 1970s era vile commercial propaganda aimed at killing off the prospects of a competitor. China are a world power on the strength of those same systems, one which can fathomably only be engaged consequentially by Russia and the USA as it is.

    From the days of the Type 53H1 and Type 53H2 frigates, Pakistan and Egypt also grabbed those and they remain in service without as much as a whimper raised concerning the oft-mouthed quality issues which might be steeped in immutable stereotypes.

    Here in Africa, there are a few Chinese-made systems which have stood the test of time and held up excellently well. The K8 jet – from Egypt to Sudan, Ghana to Zimbabwe, Namibia to Zambia have held up well. The WZ 551 APC has held up well in normal and desert operations where the MOWAG faltered. The Y12, a 17-19 seater utility transport plane which would be the Chinese equivalent of the Dornier Do-228 but which is available for US$3.5-4 million max has also stood the test of time. The Pakistanis also rate their Shaanxi ZDK-03 AEWC planes higher than the Saab Erieye as well. So I always try not to be blinded by the endless spate of China ‘bad-mouthing’

    The F22 frigates have held up well in Pakistan where an initial order of four units has been followed up with a repeat order for another four units. On that, they got the best deal with a mix of four F22 frigates and four Z-9 frigates were acquired at the rate of US$700 million. Algeria have since placed an order for the same F22 frigates and they only lately began to acquire Chinese ships with a 5,500 ton missile multimission/training ship. It stands to reason that if that did not hold up well, they would not have reached for the F22 frigates.

    • Max Montero says:

      General Beeg, my opinion not only comes from Western propaganda (which i also take with a grain of salt most of the time) , but by experience due to my dealing with military officials, commercial entities that have ties in the shipbuilding or avaition industry, quality control studies and personal experiences.

      I did talk to Thai naval officials before, and they themselves gave information on the quality issues they encountered with the Naresuan and Chao Phraya class frigates, mostly on the ship itself and not on the onboard systems. an almost same general information is taken into consideration by Philippine, Singaporean, Indonesian, Japanese, American and Australian naval officials I have encountered in the past, and they even consider this shortcoming of the Chinese defense industry in their overall strategies. Friends in the commercial shipping/shipbuilding/power/transport industries also share their experiences and thoughts, in which they accept Chinese products into their system but avoid Chinese made ships or ship related products due to consistent quality issues until now.

      I myself can attest to the difference of Chinese naval shipbuilding quality as compared to other countries. I have some technical knowledge in ship naval systems being a former navy man myself, and I already boarded dozens of foreign naval ships, like the Chinese Type 053 Jiangwei II and Jiangwei V classes, Thai Chao Phraya and Naresuan classes, Singaporean Formidable, Endurance and Victory classes, US and Australian Perry/Adelaide class, Indian Delhi, Shivalik and Kora classes, the USS Freedom, Korean KDX-2, Indonesian SIGMA class, New Zealand and Australian ANZAC class, Italian Lupo and Maestrale classes, Russian Udaloy class and many others. Looking at the inside of the substructure and superstructures build and layout alone, the difference can already be noticed. You can start on the welding on joints and connections, door fittings locks and jambs, the quality of steel and even the finishing, the materials used, the layout of overhead systems, mechanization, and miniaturization. The Thais I talked to attested that wiring, electrical systems, firefighting systems, onboard mechanical systems, poor welding were ampng the problems they encountered especially on the Chao Phraya class. Most reports also indicate that the Thais spend more than double the frigate cost just to improve the substandard issues they found,

      The Chinese quality, although not really bad at all, looks less when compared to Western or other Asian peers, although i have to give benefit of doubt to the Chinese as I have never been inside their latest ships like the Type 054A and Type 056. I believe that quality on these newer model Chinese ships have improved significantly as compared to the older types.

      The Philippine military almost got Chinese equipment during the term of President Arroyo, and of several military engineering machinery the army received from China, less than 30% are still working not because of parts unavailability but because of early breakdowns that made the equipment considered unreliable, according to an inside contact.

      I do not intend to badmouth Chinese military products, and I don’t think all Chinese products are the same. But as I said before, Nigeria and the military must make sure that quality is high and consistent on all equipment it buys, and a strong and serious quality control team from Nigeria could make sure that everything is in order before sending them off to your troops. As a customer, Nigeria can ask China to replace or return defective or substandard equipment once found and China must ensure customer satisfaction even if they sold their wares cheaper than most competitors.


      • Max Montero says:

        What I’m saying is that Chinese equipment can indeed fight and are potent weapons, but there is always the GENERAL issue of lower quality. I do not question China’s ability to create weapons that can match those from the west at a fraction of the price. They are cost effective, and are really the beat choice for countries on a tight budget. They can also last especially when properly maintained, but there is this “hit and miss syndrome”, or inability to maintain consistency in quality that hasn’t been overcome by the Chinese industry as a whole.

  11. eyimola says:

    Hi Max (Nice blog BTW)

    One major factor that overrides all others, is the reliability of the Chinese Supplier. Majority of the people here remember how our Western partners choked up supplies,(including seizing equipment that Nigeria had already paid for). during this sanctions era, Nigeria was involved in major conflict in Liberia and Sierra Leone. some of us will never forget that.

    • Acting Major Benbella says:

      Surely we cannot focus solely on Chinese or other country’s military equipments for feat of future sanction. We also cannot be certain that China will not in the future be pressured into joining a sanctions regime against Nigeria especially if it suits her national interests. The best solution will be for Nigeria to cultivate its capacity to produce all or almost all the weapons its armed forces need. In the interim, it should buy the best equipment that it can afford. And turn around to copy or reverse engineer the equipments.

      • eyimola says:

        That’s absolutely the case. However In the short to medium term, Nigeria is still developing that capacity. So it will have to rely on international partners. I should also probably point out that even countries with relatively mature manufacturing sectors, still import from other countries. China buys from Russia, The US buys from Isreal etc.

      • CHYDE says:

        God bless you Acting Major Benbella, infact you are now Colonel Benbella.

    • Max Montero says:

      Hi eyimola, that’s the advantage of going Chinese, they don’t care who you are or how you intend to use the arms, just as long as you can pay. Nigeria experienced arms embargo in the past, so there is no doubt the fear of facing it again in the future is certain. As i said earlier, besides spotty and sometimes inconsistent quality, i have no further issues with Chinese arms. As General Beeg even said, quantity has its own quality so making up in numbers can be good force multipliers.

      In an Asian context, the best example Nigeria could follow is Indonesia. They also underwent the same embargoes in the past, and now even if the arms market is open, they don’t buy solely from the West, but they also buy from other sources while at the same time developing their own weapons systems and making sure technology transfer is included on Western/Chinese/other Asian arms purchases. Its good the Nigeria has started on some indigenous weapons systems and I hope for its success.

      BTW thanks for checking the blog.

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