Nigerian Artillery vs South African Artillery. Who wins?

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.

Aftermath of the artillery bombardment of a Boko Haram supply base.
Aftermath of the artillery bombardment.

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

Nigerian army artillery troops lobbing high explosive shells in Boko Haram positions in Nigeria’s northeast.
The Boffors has a muzzle velocity of 300 to 770 m/s
The Bofors is powered by a Volvo B20 APU, given it a top speed of 6 km/h
The Bofors features an amunition crane that is powered electrically. The crane is capable of lifting 170 kgl
It has a range of elevation of 70 degrees.
Loading crew load 155 High explosive shells.

The Bofors gun elevated to its maximum level.
Nigerian artillery troops shells Boko Haram positions in Konduga, softening up the target area as Nigerian troops advance.
FOB artillery spotters scan the horizon for target identification.

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.


South Africa artillery troops during a training exercise. The G-5 is one of the best self propelled howitzers in the world
SANDF G-5 Howitzer
SANDF artillery troops during a training exercise.
SANDF G-5 howitzer towed to the practise range.

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.

SANDF artillery spotters.



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