Nigerian Army Infantry Weapons that Made the Difference.

The quick routing of the worlds deadliest terrorist group – Boko Haram, and rapid capture of the Sambisa forest by troops of various Task Force Battalion from the specially created 7th Infantry Division, barely two years after a string of embarrassing defeats by BHT from the same soldiers, has demonstrated the traditional reliability and effectiveness of Nigerian infantryman if given the right support and weapons.

The powers that be did all they could to prevent the Nigerian army from acquiring weapons. Unable to replace weapons lost to attrition, accused of human rights advicasy groups and the subsequent arms embargo slammed on the Nigerian army brought about one defeat after another for the Nigerian military for the first time in its history.

In less than 6 months Boko Haram captured huge swatches of land the size of Costa-Rica, carved out a caliphate with two million Nigerians effectively cut off from the rest of the country.

The Nigerian military fought a tough battle to reclaim all those local government areas numbering 22 in the states under emergency rule. The federal government needed weapons to equip the military to carry out that difficult task.

No amount of begging by the Goodluck Jonathan administration worked as western powers were blocking and putting to kapush any arms agreement with Israel, Pakistan and even South Africa.

Things got so bad that a vessel carrying military hardware for Nigeria was blocked in Singapore. A Pakistani C-130 Hercules carry weapons to Nigeria was intercepted by Saudi F-15’s over Saudi airspace and forced to land. Secrete efforts to procure arms from a South African arms manufacturer ended in an embarrassing diplomatic melodrama.

Facing betrayal from the Obama/Clinton administration the Nigerian government had to look towards the Eastern bloc to get arms to begin the daunting process of taking back all captured territories and liberating two million Nigerians from Boko Haram’s Islamic administration.

Nigerian troops and mechanized infantry used a plethora of new types of weapons systems in the campaign.

However, while the overall performance of the Nigerian Army was good, their operations did reveal flaws that will need to be corrected. Some of the weapons and equipment samples revealed flaws based on firsthand feedback from troops who took part in Operation Lafya Dole.

Here are some of the weapons introduced by the Nigerian army in its campaign against Boko Haram.

SMALL ARMS

Beryl M762 Assault Rifle.

The Beryl assault rifle was introduced into service in 2015 as the Army’s adopted standard issue rifle, replacing the AK-47 assault rifle.

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Nigerian army frontline troops.
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Well kitted troops from the 75 Mobile Strike Force.

In March 2017 the Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) signed an agreement with the Polish company for the manufacturing of the Beryl M762 assault rifle in Nigeria.

The agreement entailed three stages of the manufacturing process under license, namely, basic assembling, manufacturing of separate parts, and, finally, full assembling of the abovementioned firearms in Nigeria. DICON did not specify its plans in terms of quantity of assault rifles to be produced in cooperation with the PGZ group, but the Nigerian government earmarked NGN 364 million (approximately USD 1 million) and NGN 390 million (approximately USD 1 million) to set up production lines for the Beryl M762 assault rifles. This is noteworthy that DICON also produces its own copy of the FN FAL 7.62 mm rifle developed by the Belgian FN Herstal company.

The Beryl M762 is an export-oriented variant of Poland’s 5.56 mm Beryl wz.96C rifle. Unlike the baseline model, the M762 is chambered for 7.62×39 (M43) cartridges. The assault rifle is fitted with Picatinny rails and can be fed by Kalashnikov AK/AKM steel or polymer magazines.

Mortars and Artillery Pieces.

The Nigerian army also demonstrated its new long-range artillery strike capability under operational conditions in Nigeria’s northeast–less a necessity in fighting Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast than a shot across Nigeria’s bow, to the powers that be encamped in all the countries bordering Nigeria.

It should be recalled that Nigeria’s Army Chief once postulated that there was an external element to the conflict.

In 2016 the Nigerian Army announced that its frontline units would receive several new 82mm and 120mm mortar systems.

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A 105mm artillery piece is displayed in Maiduguri during the visit of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on July 6, 2018 during the celebrations for Nigeria Army day. (Photo by AUDU MARTE / AFP) (Photo credit should read AUDU MARTE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Nigerian Army 120mm Howitzer field artillery unit is displayed during a visit by President in Maiduguri on July 6, 2018 during the celebrations for Nigeria Army day. (Photo by AUDU MARTE / AFP) (Photo credit should read AUDU MARTE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Mortar crew setting up firing position.
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Mortar crew carry out maintenance.

Unlike standard mortars, the 82mm mortars has reduced noise levels and produces almost no muzzle flash or smoke.

Bozena-5 UGV Mine Sweeper

This Unmanned ground vehicle BOZENA 5 is designed for clearance of all conventional antipersonnel and antitank land mines and for IED removal assistance.

Its suitable for clearance of large mine affected areas due to its potential, size and has been used extensively in the 66,000 sqr km Sambisa forest.

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N.A Bozena-5 unmanned ground vehicle. The first if its kind in Africa.

Its approach of SAFETY is based on remote control operation (range up to 5 000 m) and on the noteworthy blast resistance (9 kg TNT). BOZENA 5 can basically operate with both – the Flail and Tiller tools for effective mine clearance.

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The Bozena -5 unmanned ground vehicle can be remote controlled by troops up to 500m away.

For stealth missions, troops are more likely to carry high powered silenced sniper rifle which the soldier on the left of this photo is holding. It fires a heavy 9x39mm round. The weapon has been a regular feature in the operations in the northeast.

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It’s features regularly with Nigerian army sniper units.

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General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG)

Unlike past operations, General purpose machine guns have been used extensively by the Nigerian army in the northeast to match Boko Haram’s truck mounted high calibre machine guns.

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Base defence sentry manning a GPMG.
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GPMG’s have become a regular feature among frontline troops.
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GPMG’s have become a regular feature among frontline troops.
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GPMG’s have become a regular feature among frontline troops.

Tavor TAR-21 Assault Rifle

Another rifle used by frontline units is the Tavor TAR-2 assault rifle. The rifle is also used by NAF Special Forces as it’s standard issue rifle.

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Standard kit for NAFSF Tavor TAR-21 and high powered military grade binoculars.
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NAFSF troops armed with Tavor TAR-21 rifles.

RM-70 Rocket Artillery

In 2013 the Nigerian Army began the process of gradually replacing its fleet of 40 Grad-21 MLRS with the RM-70, a heavier variant of the Grad.

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Nigerian Army RM-70 Multiple Launch Rock Artillery System.

The Vehicle has an armored cab. It provides protection against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. This multiple launch rocket system is fitted with a secondary 7.62 mm machine gun, mounted on top of the roof.

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N.A. Field Artillery troops hold firing positions. Unlike the Grad-21 MLRS, the RM-70 is basically bulletproof, protecting its occupants against small arms fire and grenade shrapnel.

The RM-70 is fitted with 40 launching tubes for 122 mm rockets. A standard HE-FRAG rocket is 2.87 m long and weights 66 kg. Maximum range of fire is 20.5 km. The RM-70 fires Russian or locally developed rockets. It is also compatible with all the latest rockets, developed for the BM-21 Grad.

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Combat imagery. An RM-70 fires 122mm rocket shells against Boko Haram positions.
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Combat imagery. An RM-70 fires 122mm rocket shells against Boko Haram positions.

Amoured Personnel Carriers & Infantry Fighting Vehicles

While the tank remains the spearhead of the modern land army, against an unconventional enemy using urban guerrilla tactics, the amoured fighting vehicle is what you need. The Nigerian army made this discovery the hard way after losing scores of soldiers to ambushes in tight and narrow terrain tanks cannot operate in.

Seeing the value of amoured fighting vehicles, the Nigerian army began the extensive acquisition of APCs on an unprecedented scale, such that today the Nigerian army fields the 3rd largest fleet of amoured fighting vehicles in Africa, with 2,214 amoured vehicles of all various kind and an acquisition program that is still on going.

Without these purpose built vehicles casualty numbers of Nigerian troops would have tripppled.

BTR-3/BTR-4 APC

This Ukranian built 8×8 wheelie amoured personnel carrier is used by the Nigerian army and Nigerian police force. The troops enter and leave the vehicle either through the rear doors or the roof hatches, and the driver and the commander are provided with doors located on the sides of the hull. The vehicle is armed with one 30mm automatic cannon, 7.62mm coaxial machine-gun, up to four 9P135M Konkurs or Baryer anti-tank missiles (two on each side of the turret), and one 30mm automatic grenade launcher.

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Nigerian Army BTR-4 amoured infantry fighting vehicle.
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Nigerian Army BTR-4 amoured infantry fighting vehicle.

Otokar Cobra APC

The Nigerian army has close to 300 of these Turkish built APC’s in service.

The monocoque steel v-hull provides protection against small arms fire, artilleryshell shrapnel, and to a certain degree against anti-personnel and tank mines, and IEDs. Front wheel arches are designed to be blown away to free blast pockets.

In December 2016, footage of an ISIS attack against Turkish M-60 Sabra tanks circulating the Internet, showed the crew of a Cobra APC surviving a direct hit from an ISIS RPG.

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Otokar Cobra amoured personnel carrier during a military parade at th Eagle Square, Abuja.
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Otokar Cobra APC deployed to the frontline.
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Nigerian soldiers patrol in the north of Borno state close to a Islamist extremist group Boko Haram former camp on June 5, 2013 near Maiduguri.
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Nigerian soldiers patrol in the north of Borno state close to a Islamist extremist group Boko Haram former camp on June 5, 2013 near Maiduguri.

Nigerian soldiers patrol in the north of Borno state close to a Islamist extremist group Boko Haram former camp on June 5, 2013 near Maiduguri.

Panhard VBL APC

The Nigerian army fields close to 100 of this a French wheeled 4×4 all-terrain vehicle in active service. It has adequate protection against small arms fire, artillery fragments, mines and NBC weapons. The VBL is fully amphibious and can swim at 5.4 km/h.

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Nigerian army vehicles take part in a parade marking the country’s 58th anniversary of independence, on October 1, 2018, on Eagle Square in Abuja. (Photo by Sodiq ADELAKUN / AFP) (Photo credit should read SODIQ ADELAKUN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Nigerian soldiers stand on armoured vehicles during a parade marking the country’s 58th anniversary of independence, on October 1, 2018, on Eagle Square in Abuja. (Photo by Sodiq ADELAKUN / AFP) (Photo credit should read SODIQ ADELAKUN/AFP/Getty Images)

 

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Soldiers barricade the road with armored vehicles to stop protesting youths in the central Nigerian city of Jos, Plateau State, on December 1, 2008. The Nigeria military has deployed more troops and amoured vehicles to contain the ongoing civil unrest in Jos after two days of post-election violence between Christians and Muslims that left hundreds dead.

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Proforce ARA MRAP (of Nigerian manufacture)

The ARA or THUNDER is a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle designed to provide ultimate protection for high degree threats. Combining an array of latest technology the ARA is a mission adaptive vehicle that provides superior crew protection and offensive ability.

This locally produced MRAP represents Nigeria’s attempt at military self sufficiency in the defence automotive industry. The Ara has a length of 5.2 metres and height of 2.4 metres, ground clearance of .25 metres and gross weight of 19 tons. It has a payload of 1.5 tons and is powered by a Cummins engine delivering 300 hp, giving a top speed of 110 km/h.

A 12.7 mm machinegun can be mounted on a 360 degreee roof turret which can be open or fully enclosed. Optional equipment includes slat armour, gun ports and grenade launchers as well as reactive armour.

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Proforce ARA “Thunder” MRAP. Pride of Nigeria.

 

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The Nigerian army takes delivery of the first batch of ARA Mraps from Proforce.
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The Nigerian army takes delivery of the first batch of ARA Mraps from Proforce.
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The Nigerian army takes delivery of the first batch of ARA Mraps from Proforce.

MaxPro MRAP

In 2016 the United States donated over 24 Mine-Resistant Armour-Protected Vehicles, MRAP, to the Nigerian Army to boost the war against Boko Haram, in the North-East, only to discover that %50 of the Mine Resistant Amoured Protected Vehicles were faulty and will cost the army millions of dollars to fix up and equip the MRAPs to standard use.

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A Nigerian soldier stands between the 24 armoured vehicles donated by the United States to the Nigerian military at the Nigerian Army 9th Brigade Parade Ground in Lagos on January 7, 2016. 
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Some of the 24 armoured vehicles donated by the United States to the Nigerian military at the Nigerian Army 9th Brigade Parade Ground in Lagos, on January 7, 2016.
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Some of the 24 armoured vehicles donated by the United States to the Nigerian military at the Nigerian Army 9th Brigade Parade Ground in Lagos, on January 7, 2016.

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BMP-1 AFV

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Reeva MRAP

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Saura 4K F-4K APC

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Spartan MK.III APC

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One Reply to “Nigerian Army Infantry Weapons that Made the Difference.”

  1. After reviewing your article on the weapons of Boko Haram, I came to the conclusion that Nigeria has all it needs to entirely decimate Boko Haram within 6-9 months without external help.

    What is really needed now is a change of strategy. Our Special Forces need to become more trained especially in insertion and extraction behind enemy lines. First let us examine our current strategy. We fly our reconnaissance platforms during the day, detecting Boko Haram camps and then sending out jets on bombing and strafing runs. Also our soldiers go from village to village trying to clear out cells of BHTs and then the days these soldiers are resting in their base camps, they get attacked and over-run. This strategy is ineffective against a hit and run terrorist group.

    It’s time we change that completely. First, a special task force should created, the primary assignment of this task force is to decimate BH by cutting of the head of the snake. To hunt down it’s top commanders and then the very head honcho himself Shekau or Yusuf’s son.

    Abba Kyari our super-cop has proved adept at investigating and tracking down kidnap victims and suspects. He and his team can be members of this task force. Now this task force should be trained vigorously for night operations and adequately equipped with night-vision optics, our mil-35s should be capable of flying and fighting at night as well.

    Once the reconnaissance planes/UAVs detect a new BHT camp, special forces group of the Air Force or SBS of the navy should go in at night and attack with precision. Our current strategy of daytime bombings usually just destroy camps, the BHT elements regroup and setup new camps better hidden from our spy planes. But attacking with precision at nights, brings several advantages; not only will major arrests be made, there will also be intelligence gathering both from interrogation of suspects and at the BHT camp sites.

    Another strategy is to turn already captured commanders, BHT logistics suppliers etc into spys to work for the government and throw them back out there to gather intelligence either by prisoner swap exchange or clandestinely using them as baits. This work is meant for the NIA and DSS operatives who are highly skilled in spy tradecraft. It has been done all over the world and certainly can work here as well.

    The only reason why I believe these strategies won’t work is some highly placed individuals are gaining financially from this insurgency war and the longer it plays out for, the fatter their babaringas become and they will do everything to frustrate such aggressive maneuvers. BH doesn’t have the capability to fight or defend themselves from sudden precision attacks at night. If such attacking maneuvers are sustained overtime, the head of this vicious snake will eventually be decapicitated for good.

    Please feel free to add to, criticize or condemn.

    Like

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