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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saura 4K F-4K APC
Spartan MK.III APC