With an active duty personnel of 180,000 men, 32,000 in reserve and a paramilitary force of 200,000 men, the Nigerian army has a lot of boots on the ground for an all volunteer army. It represents one of Africa’s largest man army.
MAIN BATTLE TANKS
With 224 Main Battle Tanks and 157 light tanks, there are more tanks in the Nigerian army than in the British Royal Army.
T-72 M1 Tank.
There are 77 T-72 M1 tanks in service with the Nigerian army. Until recently the Nigerian army was facing obsolescence in virtually every front. The tip of the spear of Nigeria’s armoured brigade was the obsolete British built Vickers Mk.III Eagle Tank. The T-72 M1 is the first new tank the Nigerian army will be acquiring in decades.
Despite the introduction of the T-72 M1 Main Battle Tanks, the bulk of Nigeria’s tank force still consist of older obsolete tanks first introduced in the 1980s. Nigeria currently has about 223 frontline tanks. These are distributed between mechanized infantry and tank brigades.
VICKERS Mk.III Eagle Tank
There are 108 Vickers Mk.III tanks in service with the Nigerian army. In a relatively new development the Nigerian army have introduced Battalion Tactical Groups, a reinforced alarms unit capable of independent action consisting of two motor rifle company, artillery, reconnaissance, engineer and support unit. Each manoveur brigade have approximately two battalion tactical group. The building block of this unit are the Vickers Mk.III Eagle tanks.
There are 25 remaining AMX-30 Tank in service with the Nigerian army. The AMX-30 has a welded hull and cast turret. Its development was focused on firepower and mobility rather than protection. The Vehicle is fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems. Armor of the AMX-30 is very thin and protects only from small-bore cannons and artillery shell splinters. It can be penetrated by all modern anti-tank weapons.
The AMX-30 is considered as the worst protected main battle tank ever built and as such has seen little service in Nigeria’s northeast theatre where improvised devices presents challenges for ground units.
FV101 Scorpion light tank.
There are 157 Scorpion tanks in service with the Nigerian army. Though classified as a light tank, this British built tank is used by the Nigerian army primarily for reconnaisance role because of its extraordinary speed. It also provides fire support for amoured forces. The Scorpion light tank holds the Guinness world record for the fastest production tank; recorded doing 82.23 km/h (51.10 mph) at the QinetiQvehicle test track, Chertsey, Surrey, on 26 January 2002.
Armoured reconnaissance is just one of those things commanders just have to have. You can’t just send in a spearhead of amour not knowing what you’re going up against, whether it be minefieleds, anti–tank weapons, barriers, obstacles, traps etc against an enemy whose adepth at improvised explosive devices (IED).
Its up to Calvary scouts or amoured reconnaisance regiments to find these obstacles and threats and provide real-time tactical situation awareness of the battlefield to advancing forces. If tank commander or troop commanders or brigade commander is giving more information, he has a better overall picture of what he has to bring to the fight.
The Nigerian army has dedicated reconnaisance units and favour light tanks and wheeled amoured personnel carriers in its reconnaissance battalion, chief of which are the French built Panhard series. Commanders also use these Recce units for their fire power rather than just for reconnaissance.
Panhard ERC-90 Sagaie
There are 80 ERC-90s in service with the Nigerian army.
Panhard AML 245
There are 130 Panhard AML in service with the Nigerian army. Like the ERC Sagaie, the AML 245 is used primarily for reconnaissance with secondary fire support role.
Palmaria 155 mm Self Propelled Artillery
There are 25 Palmaria 155 mm Self Propelled Howitzer in service with the Nigerian army.
Oto Melara 120mm Field Howitzer
FH77 155 mm Self Propelled Artillery
There are 25 Bofors 155mm Self Propelled Artillery
RM-70/MB-21 GRAD MLRS
There are 40 Multipe Launch Rocket Systems in the Nigerian army arsenal.
L-16 81mm Mortar
Panhard M3 APC
There are 18 Panhard M3 APC in service with the Nigerian army.
Ferret Amoured Vehicle
Number in service: 25
Proforce ARA MRAP
In August 2017 Proforce Nigeria made the first made in Nigeria Mine Resistant Amoured Personnel Carrier (MRAP) called the ARA. About a dozen unit was ordered by the Nigerian army for testing and evaluation with plans to buy more.
The Nigerian army fields 204 of these Turkish made Infantry Mobility Vehicles. The Cobra vehicle forms a common platform which can be adapted for various roles and mission requirements including: armoured personnel carrier, anti-tank vehicle, reconnaissance vehicle, ground surveillance radar vehicle, forward observation vehicle, armoured ambulance, armoured command post, turreted vehicle for 12.7mm machine gun (turret produced by the Israeli firm Rafael), 20mm cannon, anti-tank missiles such as the TOW missile and Spike missiles or surface-to-air missiles.
There are 76 MT-LB APCs in service with the Nigerian army.
MOWAG Piranha I Amoured Fighting Vehicle.
The Nigerian army operates 140 of these highly versatile amoured fighting vehicles.
Saurer 4K 4FA
Of the initial 300 purchased of Austria, 250 remain in active service with the Nigerian army.
Streit Spartan MK.III Amoured Fighting Vehicle
Nigeria took delivery of 25 Streit Spartan APC in 2016.
In 2016 the United States handed over 24 Mine Resistant Amoured Personnel Carrier to the Nigerian Army.
ZU-23-2 Anti-aircraft Cannon
There are 350 40mm ZU-23-2 anti aircraft cannon in the Nigerian army arsenal. The ZU-23-2 was designed to engage low-flying targets at a range of 2.5 km as well as armoured vehicles at a range of two kilometres (km) and for direct defense of troops and strategic locations against air assault usually conducted by helicopters and low-flying airplanes.
The system is paired with the Skyguard. The Skyguard system is contained within a towed trailer, mounted on the roof of which is a pulse doppler search radar, a pulse doppler tracking radar and a co-axial television camera.
The trailer also houses the crew of two and a small petrol generator. Skyguard is an all-weather air defense system for the control of aircraft at low altitude and at low and medium altitude range up to 3,000 m. The maximum effective distance is given as 4,000 m.
The maximum effective distance is given as 4,000 m The system takes the air surveillance, target acquisition, calculation of the derivative-action values and the control of two Oerlikon 35 mm anti-aircraft guns. Skyguard is served by four people.