In the first week of December 2015, hundreds of Boko Haram fighters with dozens of Toyota pickup trucks and amoured personnel carriers were assembling near a remote camp near Camp Zero in the Sambisa forest. They knew the Nigerian Army was planning a major offensive to dislodge the insurgent group from the Sambisa, hence they set out preparing their defences, dispersing forces all around the Sambisa forest to make it virtually impossible for the Nigerian army to deliver a crippling blow to the group.
They had succeeded in planting hundred of land mines along likely routes the Nigerian Army will take.
At about 04:15 am on the morning of December 17 two Boko Haram supply and logistical camps were struck with an intense artillery barrage. The attack lasted only 15 minutes, but images of the aftermath showed a scene of devastation and scores of burnt out vehicles. Ninety six Boko Haram fighters were killed in the attack.
The attack was carried out by Nigerian artillery forces using short-range BM-21 Grad multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) firing nine kilometres from the outskirts of Maiduguri. Two mechanized attack units of Boko Haram was wiped out in 15 minutes. Such is the potency of artillery firepower.
Artillery power has been the centrepiece of Nigeria’s land warfare for decades. In the early to late nineties the Cameroonian and Chadian militaries had nothing to fear about confronting Nigerian infantry. But they feared Nigerian artillery. The Chadians and Cameroonians could not mass fire across unit boundaries, But the Nigerians, with coordinated-fire “time on target” could bring dozens of artillery pieces of various kinds to bear on a single target, delivering hundreds of rounds simultaneously.
The only country in sub-sahara Africa with an artillery force of similar size and capability is South Africa.
Nigerian artillery are a bit heavier, their South African counterpart generally have longer ranges. DN evaluates both countries artillery forces to determine which is best.
Self Propelled Guns.
Rocket Artillery Guns.
Long Range Artillery Guns.
We start with self propelled guns.
Nigerian Army Bofors FH777 howitzer
The Boffors FH77 is a towed howitzer of 155 calibre designed and built by the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors. It has a crew of 14 and an FOB unit of between 50 to 70 ( Flexible).
Rate of fire : 4 rounds in 9 seconds.
Maximum firing range : 24 km
SANDF G-5 155 Howitzer.
The G-5 is a South African towed howitzer of 155 calibre designed and built by Denel Land Systems. It is one of the world’s most advanced howitzer. It has a crew of 8 and an FOB (foward observer/ spotter ) unit of 100 men.
Rate of fire : 3 rounds/minute.
Maximum firing range : 39 km.
Like the Nigerian army, South Africa’s Forward Observer troops usually usually accompanies an artillery unit and are are responsible for directing artillery and mortar fire into a target.