GULMA UAV, crafted with pride in the Federal Republic of Nigeria

KADUNA, Nigeria
Dec. 17, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan on
Tuesday in Kaduna unveiled the country’s first indigenous unmanned
aerial vehicle (drone), GULMA,designed and constructed by the
Nigerian Air Force

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr.
Jonathan said that the unveiling of the vehicle marked another landmark
moment in the nation’s history. He said that besides its diverse military application, the vessel would provide a range of benefits in disaster
management, power line surveys and
law enforcement.

Mr. Jonathan said that the vehicle
would also be useful in aerial
imaging/mapping, telecommunications and weather
monitoring. “It is also rapidly becoming an important tool in news coverage, environmental monitoring, and oil and gas exploration.

“Considering the potential impact of
its benefit and versatility, I cannot but
say how proud I am of the men and
women of our Armed Forces,” the
president said. “Apart from their commitment to the protection of our sovereignty, they are helping to keep our nation ahead in military science and technology and to keep their civilian counterparts on their toes.

“Today, as we stand in appreciation of
the gallant men and women of our Air
Force,we are reminded that hardwork and diligence can break many barriers,’’ he said.

Mr. Jonathan commended the Chief of
Air Staff and all officers and men of
the Nigerian Air Force for the
achievement, noting that it would
strengthen the country. He said it
would also enhance the nation’s role in peace keeping and conflict
prevention. The president said he was optimistic that this stride by the Nigerian Air Force would mark a turning point for indigenous technology in every sector of the nation’s life.

“Let me assure the Air Force of the
Federal Government’s support for this
and all other research projects. We
will encourage and assist private
sector concerns to key into mass
production of the project to achieve the highest and best commercial use
of this prototype Unmanned Aerial

“As I said in my Independence Day
address, our nation is made great by
the big and small efforts of regular
citizens. Indeed, indigenous initiatives remain indispensable in achieving national greatness. “To retain the country’s importance on
the global stage, we must continue to
produce leaders in science,technology and engineering, and invest more in
ideas,” the president said.

In his remark,the Supervising Minister
of Defence, Labaran Maku, said the
development of a surveillance aircraft
by the Nigerian Air Force was a bold
statement of government’s resolve to
provide security for the Nigerian populace.

Mr. Maku, who is the Minister of
Information, said that the GULMA UAV
would potentially afford the armed
forces a window of immense
opportunities in its task of acquiring
timely intelligence and combating criminality.

“Although the UAV was a brainchild of
the Nigerian Air Force, it is important
that other services and security
agencies incorporate it into their
operations, if its potential is to be fully harnessed. “There is therefore, the need for a comprehensive policy on UAV acquisition and operation to optimise the employment of GULMA UAV by all services and security agencies,’’ he said.

Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, had said that the
GULMA was designed to meet vast
expectations and needs. Mr. Badeh said that the GULMA could be employed by the armed forces and
security agencies for the protection of
the country.

He explained that the air force
envisaged partnership with agencies
such as NEMA and the Nigeria Air Space Management Agency for weather forecasting. “Furthermore, the GULMA, as a qualitative, timely and reliable source of information could serve as a powerful tool for media practitioners. “

To sustain the current tempo of
development, the NAF would require
the assistance of government in
infrastructure and human capacity
development,” the Air chief said.

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. triggah says:

    This is Good news. Our military needs a platform to give them real time imagery capability.

  2. Donian007 says:

    Yeah, marching forward! Kudos to the airforce for a job well done. But why change the name AMEBO. Would love to see the GULMA mass produced while we work towards a bigger and armed version. Gen Beeg u don nearly give me hypertension for ur exit soootay me kuma go awol. Anyways happi u are back. Welkum back n merry Christmas.

  3. naijaseal says:

    Do we have any details about the specs of the UAV? From the physical looks, its obvious not a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV. I’d like to know how long it can stay airborne, what sort of telemetry, does it provide First Person View (FPV)?

    Does the airforce have any sort of drone C&C center?

    I suspect it most likely will use either GSM or licensed frequency for comms. I hope such channels will be encrypted.

    Also, its high time we start pushing for pure military type satellite, unlike what we have with NigComSat. We need those sat links if we intend to scale our drone builds and deployment.

    I think this unveiling raises more questions than answers for me…

    Anyway, kudos to the airforce.

  4. Obix says:

    This is great! But Beag, why is it the first? What of the AMEBO? I guess it’s better technically better than the Amebo series. I hope it’s capable of giving live feed unlike the Amebos!

  5. CHYDE says:

    Gulma is Hausa for AMEBO, But then i too wonder why the name change

  6. rka says:

    @Oga Obix, probably because it is the first full production model, while the Amebo series were the prototypes.

  7. Anas says:

    Pls can anyone give us the full specs of this UAV as in hw many hours of endurance it has ,its maximum altitude, whether it is has offensive capabilities .

  8. Manny Aydel says:

    Gentlemen, kudos to the NAF and the CAS and his team. The unveiling ceremony could have been made more colourful if the NAF chaps had given the C-in-C a demonstration flight in addition to having the aircraft in a static display. Its not too late though as a demo flight can still be organised for the domestic media so they can broadcast same in their news bulletins for the viewing benefit of all Nigerians. Congratulations once again Nigeria!

  9. oJE says:

    The air force is challenging the Navy for ingenuity and power, the army is a tad behind. With 5 satellites in orbit Nigeria basically have a monopoly on space surveillance capability so long they can be in integrated. Is this the Amebo?

  10. chidez says:

    Videos of the GULMA UAV. There seem to be atleast 2 produced already going by their Code numbers.

    Gulma Tactical UAV (NAF 610)

    Gulma Tactical UAV (NAF 611)

  11. naijaseal says:

    @ Chidez,

    Wonderful video! This videos have answered a few of my questions viz:

    1. We see the NAF 611 has a video camera, though we cant say if its realtime video or a store and analyze type
    2. They are using a stablised (i.e tracking) radio link (most likely microwave) for telemetry. We do not know the range, it depends on the radio power and antenna size; some can do above 20KM line of sight.
    3. The mobile control room is cool, but it needs to be ruggedized. We need Proforce to come up with a suitable vehicle, unless Innoson wants to produce such vehicles.

    Also, thermal imaging camera’s on the UAV will help too, so they can also be used at night

    Seriously, the NAF needs to get a military type satellite for them to really scale these drones. This should be something they should have in their medium term plans. I’m sure our Chinese friends can work something out…

    I’m curious to know the distance from the NAF base in KD to the Boko hotspots in the Northeast.

    All in all, i think the NAF are taking consistent small steps here, hope they can keep it up.

    • beegeagle says:

      Using road distances,

      – KD-Jos-Yola (via Mararaban Jos is 260 km; Jos-Yola is 540 km). That is roughly 800kms by road

      – KD-Kano-DMTR (tis 220km to Kano, 420km to Damaturu from Kano). That is about 640kms in total

      – KD-Kano-MDGR (220km to Kano, 551km from Kano to Maiduguri). That is about 771kms to Maiduguri from Kano.

      Given that air miles are shorter than the circumnavigation entailed in road distances, slash 120-150km from each of those final figures – 640km to Damaturu, 771km to Maiduguri and 800km to Yola and you can reasonably project towards air distances of

      500km (KD to DMTR)

      630km (KD to MDGR)

      670km (KD to YOLA)

      • Are James says:

        Very good technical vision by the CAS and team. I withdraw 50% of earlier comments on the NAF leadership.
        The relatively short range of the UAV is an issue though. The GCSs would eventually have to be armoured to be able to move safely under battle conditions to make up for the extremely short leg of this UAV. Very good technical analysis @Naijaseal.
        More development work is expected to support the requirements of taking off from short lengths of semi-paved roads and maybe eventually maturing into STOL/VTOL models.

  12. G8T Nigeria says:

    This is wonderful, I hope we work on it to reduce the noise. We are steadily progressing. Up 9ja

    • Are James says:

      Interesting anecdote about drones and noise. During the last Israeli-Hizbollah war in Lebanon, foreign reporters interviewing Hezbollah fighters made jokes about the fighters screwing their faces and cursing in anger at the persistent irritatingly whirring sounds of dozens of Israeli UAVs buzzing overhead 24/7. They couldn’t see them or shoot them down…really very funny

  13. Henry says:

    Congratulations nigeria!!!!!!!

    Oya oh, the airforce should start mass producing it.

  14. Spirit says:

    I would have appreciated seeing the pics/videos captured by the camera. Well, that may b classified info as NAF may not want to disclose the quality/resolution.

    I could see three cameras; one under the port wing, one under the fuselage and one on the tail.

    I second Oga naijaseal, the noise level should be reduced drastically if this bird is going to catch any oil thief/terrorists. The noise would have ‘notified’ criminals of its presence when its still kms away.

    I really appreciate the ingenuity of converting this passenger bus to a Mobile Mission Control. If not for the Air Conditioner, nobody would suspect it. That feature will be useful when conducting operations (against BH) in urbanized/built up areas as it can even park on the street. Something should be done about the A/C if it were to function in that capacity. I am sure the military version will be ruggedized; probably an Igirigi.

    It wont harm anybody (except BH) if the bird has two to four hard points to mount some missiles.

    I am very proud of the NAF, I am very proud of Innoson.

    God bless Nigeria.

  15. Henry says:

    Below are comments made by one of the pioneer instructor pilots. The comments by the pilots answers some of our questions.

  16. Henry says:

    “On the NAF 611 flight, there are four cameras on board. A Gimbal camera below Fuselage (black) close to the nose wheel, A GoPro 3+ on the Horizontal Stabilizer, a GoPro 3 on the left wing, and a GoPro 2 on the bottom of the fuselage, just behind the Gimbal Camera. Take a closer look at the video.

    The Gulma is just the beginning of the Nigerian UAV road map and this release is the first with sensors strictly for surveillance. The Gulma is not for Armament.

    The Gulma’s role is straight and simple: TAKE A CAMERA UP INTO THE SKY, BE ABLE TO LOCK ON TO A TARGET, TRACK CONTINUOUSLY, AND SEND BACK LIVE IMAGERY. If it can take off, sustain its flight for the designed endurance, operate as far out as the intended range, operate reliably as high up as the design ceiling, fly automatically through way points, and return back and land safely, then it can perform its role of taking the camera payload up high for image analysts to do their job. The Gulma is just like a giant cordless boom taking a camera up high.

    The NAF 610 & 611 videos were taken during a low altitude test flights of the Gulma. At the designed loiter altitude, the engine noise is not an issue. At cruise and loiter speeds, the altitude is way to high to easily hear the sound of the engine. The Israeli Aerostar (also in the NAF’s inventory) is way noisier at same altitude for sure. Gas engine powered aircrafts are generally noisy at low altitude, and when running at very high rpm.

    The Gulma is the first and in no way is meant to compare with other countries UAVs. It is the start and I am personally happy it starts now and not in the future. Anyone out there who has something and is willing to bring it to the table, should come sit on the table and contribute. Great guys out there, please do contact the NAF and help contribute to this project that will move the nation forward… Lets not complain, downcast or compare… For once, lets have some little faith in ourselves and what we can do.

    The NAF Air Expo is coming up in April 2014 and am sure the NAF will be working on providing full demonstration of the Gulma in range, ceiling, endurance and sensory capabilities. Plan to attend if you’re interested in having some doubts cleared.”

  17. Henry says:

    “The Airframe and structure was designed by the NAF. The entire aircraft composite was built off the mould in the NAF base. There is a fully functioning composite manufacturing unit in place. There is a wind tunnel which the president & CNC commissioned on same day. No one sold anything structures. Its fully indigenous, by Nigerians on Nigerian soil. Come visit AFIT.”

  18. Henry says:

    “First off, all pilots were trained in country and I am one of the instructor Pilots.

    RC Flight simulators help provide the initial muscle memory training and introduction to orientation of the RC aircraft. Past this, the rest is field and hands on. Furthermore, while RC piloting skills are foundational to UAV Piloting, this is only restricted to the External Pilots performing Launch & Recovery and there is a difference to how UAV are flown. Even if you are a good RC pilot, there is still a lot to learn before you can fly UAVs.

    In RC Piloting, the pilot flies free style. In UAV Piloting, the pilot flies by numbers, by the rules, within limits and strictly by mission requirements. So its not just buying a cheap N80k RC pilot type sim like RealFlight and spending some hours buzzing some dots on the computer screen and expecting someone to take an expensive payload up in the sky… the UAV is going airborne for one reason – Camera Payload.

    The skills of UAV flying are way ahead from RC. The 15 pilots have gone through very rigorous training. Time, efforts, years of experience have been put together to produce these 15 Pioneer pilots who have successfully distinguished themselves and earned their well deserved wings.”

  19. giles says:

    pls mr henry,hw can i contact dat pilot.i wich to join d airforce(AFIT)

  20. naijaseal says:

    @Oga Beegs.
    Thanks for the figuring out the distance. Its obvious the NAF can not operate the UAV from KD into the MDGR axis. I see two options.

    1. Build a drone runway and hanger in the NAF base in MDGR. Also put in place a proper secure broadband radio base station there (since we do not have any satellite capabilities)

    2. Use the existing MDGR airport, but have a NAF section in/adjacent, sort of like its in the Ikeja
    If you ask me, the NAF should pursue one of those options in the short term

    Fantastic report from the UAV pilot.
    As far as i know the GoPro 3/3+ do not offer any sort of thermal imaging capabilities. We need those capabilities, bearing in the mind that BH move around a lot at night.

    Also, i think the NAF should collaborate with the Brazilians, they have a very healthy UAV industry. One of such companies is

    • Henry says:

      Oga naijaseal, that’s a question I’d also like to ask the UAV pilot. I hope there are plans to install thermal imagery.

      I believe NAF and the brazilians signed a co-operation agreement in 2012 or earlier in the year.

      • Crystal Aerospace says:

        The black camera on board has a tau 640 IR sensor. The drone can operate day and night and has one of the best autopilots on-board. The aircraft was designed by an Air Force team made of 8 PhDs (all trained at Cranfield University UK) plus over 30 Officers with MSc in Aerospace Vehicle design, all from Cranfield University UK. The process from concept to test flight was over 80,000 man hours of work. Guys, let’s learn to appreciate good things

  21. Yagazie says:

    After viewing the videos, I am speechless with PRIDE. Well done NAF- more grease to your wings!!

  22. gbash10 says:

    That is the spirit,congratulation to the NAF AFIT Team, and the entire NAF officers,men and women !

  23. Henry says:

    Oga sunday, impressive work on the UAV’s. I’d like to ask, I). are the amebo series drones still in the pipeline or has the NAF shelved the Amebo series for the Gulma drones?

    II). From the serial numbers in the videos above, our assumptions are, there are at-least two (2) Gulma drones already manufactured. Are these assumption correct?

    III). It was reported in the news in the month of november that 2 indigenous drones were flown and inspected by the CAS, however, no photos/ videos were released. Where the drones tested in november those of amebo or the Gulma?

    IV). What about plans on mass-production, how soon can we see more of the “Gulma” drones in service?

    V) My fifth question is un-related, however relevant. Please share photos/ details of the airforce made EOD ( bomb disposal robot). We haven’t seen any images of the EOD despite the fact it was widely reported in the media.

    • Ok, I will try to clarify a few things….

      1a. The Amebo’s series are still functional but perhaps might have reached EOL… There are quite a handful of engineers and researchers from the Amebo team that’s on the Gulma project…
      1b. The Gulma series project was borne by NAF’s vision at Optimizing Local Engineering (OLE), developing aviation technology in Nigeria using 100% Nigerians and within Nigeria as much as possible – Indigenous is the key word. @Crystal Aerospace cleared thoroughly on the wealth of experience of the NAF team working on the Gulma.

      2. There are 3 Gulmas – 609,610 & 611, all functional. Manufacturing is on going as well as improvements and enhancements…its part of every development cycle.

      3. If its November 2013, then it will be the Gulma…

      4. The unveiling ceremony is transitional to future productions for operational use.

      5. The bomb disposal robot is under another unit of the NAF – Armament. Perhaps we might be lucky to have someone with knowledge of this unit will help answer that question.

      Hope this helps. I am confident and do expect impressive developments from within our nation…

      • Henry says:

        Many thanks Oga Sunday for all the answered questions and clarifications. We are hoping to see more up-loaded videos of the Gulma ISR UAV in the near future.

        Our hopes are definitely high as we await the unveil of “FARAWA”, the light trainer currently under development by the airforce. Any snippets on the FARAWA you would like to share?

        Congratulations to the AFIT team who worked on the Gulma series.

      • Thanks Oga Sunday for the heads up. I have some questions to ask :
        1) What is the FG doing about funding to continue these laudable project?
        2) Can the Gulma be deployed in the war against insurgents and War against Oil Thief’s?
        3) When are we expecting an armed version?
        4) How do we retrieve the Gulma when she goes down (as Oga peccavi asked)?

        I want to use this opportunity to congratulate you and all those working on these projects.Keep up the good work.

  24. naijaseal says:

    @Crystal Aerospace,
    I’m actually appreciating the NAF here. Thanks for clarifying the IR camera onboard.
    Let’s see the next steps the NAF takes with this drone program.

  25. peccavi says:

    This is a brilliant effort, please lets be happy with this and stop expecting a Space Shuttle from day one.
    It is a tactical UAV ideal for 3 key tasks, route clearance/ route protection, so a unit can send it to scout and monitor any activity.
    Base protection, this is ideal for this, it can scope out suspicious vehicles, pieces of covered ground, maintain a constant presence or cover gaps in the patrol matrix,
    Pipeline and key infrastructure protection.
    The noise is not an issue, at height it will be muffled and if its lower down it is a good psychological tool. Like I said in the force protection piece the mere fact the enemy knows you are either out there or looking for him, means he needs to modify his plans to stay safe.
    this is a brilliant concept, made in Nigeria
    How far is the prototype from being certified and going into production?
    How many are to be produced in a year and how long does it take to train a pilot and maintenance crew?
    If your using line of sight radio, is there a fail safe for recovering the aircraft if there is interference or will the production model use satellite?
    How is the real time video relayed back? Is it encrypted?
    are the operators trained to call in air/ artillery strikes?

    Thank you

  26. OriginalPato says:

    Nice to know that apart from the cameras, the GULMA is wholly Nigerian and there are three already in service. I would advise that NAF strictly sticks with conceptualization, design and testing. Blue prints could be sold to a willing Nigerian partner for production…or better NAF could setup a limited liability company (if it hasn’t done so) and contract the management out.

    Kudos to NAF

    Does anyone have any info about what actually transpired in Bama yesterday?

  27. Donspony says:

    Kudos to the NAF. Quite an impressive pool of talents behind this too. They can only aim higher and unto better things.

    Hopefully we get to see hand launched/glider drones from them in the future too.

    • drag_on says:

      I am a bit surprised that none of you guys noticed that oga Sunday Idajili is one of the drone pilots!(I stand to be corrected).He brought those videos into the public domain and he has more( awaiting approval).Oga Sidajili once you get approval pls post more videos,we appreciate it.

      • AOk says:

        Perharps the Navy should invest more in UAVs’ for patrol over the waters. It can then direct air and sea assets for interdiction saving hours of random maritime patrols by large vessels.

        Read a story years ago by a Nigerian writer focussing on using UAVs to move drugs from Mexico to the USA! We have the mind set, just need the proper application/s.

  28. gbash10 says:

    Please oga Sunday,you have explained enough about the technical specs of the Gulma,no be only us de here o!

  29. doziex says:

    Oga sunday, welcome to beegeagles blog.

    Can you enlightened us about NAF ‘s manned assets.
    What’s the deal with our MB-39s ?
    ANY new procurements on the horizon ?

  30. Idowu Israel O. says:

    *Error* Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) controls the Nigerian Airspace. The job of weather forecasting is that of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

  31. Idowu Israel O. says:

    *Error* Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) controls the Nigerian Airspace. The job of weather forecasting is that of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

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