A tracked Steyr 4K 7FA APC of the Nigerian Army
2 March, 2015
Ever since the Nigerian Civil War era when the refusal by traditional partners forced the Nigerian Armed Forces to diversify the sources for the procurement of military hardware, Nigeria has maintained a policy of multiple-source procurement till date.
Before the July 6th, 1967 start of the Nigerian Civil War, the Nigerian Armed Forces only fielded Panhard AML armoured cars, US-made 105mm howitzers, British-made Saladin armoured cars, Ferret scout cars and Saracen APCs; German Do-28 planes and Italian Piaggio trainers; Swiss Oerlikon and Swedish Bofors anti-aircraft guns, Carl Gustaf and Bazooka anti-tank weapons; a Dutch-built frigate and British-made Ford class gunboats.
With the refusal to sell arms and replenishable stock to the Nigerians, the Federal Military Government of a young General Yakubu Gowon courageously and decisively commenced the diversification of the sources of armaments needed to prosecute the raging Nigerian Civil War.
Starting with the Nigerian Air Force in August/September 1967, the Gowon regime very swiftly acquired squadrons of pre-owned MiG 15 and MiG 17 fighter jets, Ilyushin Il-28 Beagle bombers and L29 Delfin light attack jets. For the Nigerian Navy, a triad of Komar torpedo boats were acquired from Russia while the Nigerian Army swooped on ZSU-23-4 self-propelled artillery and 122mm gun-howitzers, among other infantry support weapons.
Inadevertently, the arms embargo had opened a door which has not closed after 48 years. Somehow, it all seems like deja vu as Nigeria’s ‘traditional partners’ have again refused to sell arms to Nigeria and the incumbent Federal Government has immediately acceded to wise counsel and turned to more reliable sources for armaments.
Over the course of the past eighteen months, the Nigerian Armed Forces have signed contracts for and/or taken delivery of
– Streit Spartan Mk.3 APCs from the UAE, BigFoot MRAPs
– Infantry support weapons, a modified Type 062 gunboat and P18N stealth OPVs, M28 recce UAVs and armed CH-3A drones from China;
– T84 Oplot tanks, BTR-4 IFVs,modernised T72 AV tanks and weaponised Mi-17 and upgraded Mi-35 assault/attack helicopters from Ukraine;
– BVP-1 IFVs, RM-70 122mm MRLS and T72 M1 tanks from the Czech Republic
– new Mi-35M and Mi-171Sh Terminator attack/assault helicopters from Russia
– Armed Gazelle scout helicopters from an unknown source.
– upgraded Mi-24V/Mi-35P attack helicopters from Belarus
Let us now focus on the main thrust of this writeup – standardisation of army equipment.
Now, even as the aforementioned systems appear to come from a plethora of sources, there is a noticeable degree of uniformity and interoperability which bodes well for logistical support, such as has not been the case before now.
Before now, the Nigerian Army already had in operation tracked Steyr and MT-LB APCs from Austria and Russia; EE-9 Cascavel AFVs and EE-11 Urutu APCs from Brazil; T55 tanks, BM-21 MRLS, 122mm gun-howitzers and 130mm guns from Russia; APR-21 MRLS and M81/85 152mm howitzers; Panhard VBL scout cars, M3 APCs and AML 60/90/Sagaie AFVs from France; Oto Melara 105mm and 155mm SP artillery from Italy, Swedish GDF-02 35mm AA artillery, Chinese Type 90 35mm AA artillery, BTR-3 APCs and IFVs from Ukraine, MOWAG and British-made Scorpion light tanks, Spartan APCs and Vickers Mk.3 MBTs.
It goes without saying that a combination of the existing and the incoming, collectively pose a logistical nightmare for those saddled with the task of keeping these systems operational. Without further encumbering the army logisticians and engineers, here is what I believe we should do to maintain that policy of varying the sources of hardware while keeping the associated requirement for spares and maintenance as simple as possible.
Personally, I have my views on what the way forward should be. In order not to pre-empt anyone however, let me keep those views to myself until you have stated yours.