Despite its short comings, (of which there are many), the Nigerian military remains among the most formidable on the continent. It’s ranked 4th most powerful in Africa in the GFP (Global Firepower Index) ranking . The vast majority of its weapons systems are quite dated and in serious need of modernization.
Unfortunately the military’s modernisation program is moving at a snail’s pace. Nevertheless, these are the five deadliest weapons that are currently in the arsenal of the Nigerian Military.
#5 T-72M1 Main Battle Tank
In 2014 the Nigerian Army began the process of replacing its Vickers MK.3 tank. The British built Vickers Mk.3 Eagle tank was the primary spearhead of the Nigerian army’s tank force and would maintain its frontline status if the Nigerian army, until the Boko boys started their campaign of terror.
Lacking in reactive armour, the Vickers tank easy fell prey to Boko Haram’s ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns mounted on their vehicles, as well as RPG’s and mines. There are incidences of Boko Haram fighters sliding a hand grenade down the barrel of the Vickers tank, destroying it.
The Nigerian army needed a tank with basic characteristics in improved firepower, protection, mobility, and reliability, as well as to approach the sophistication level of the tank of 3rd or 4th generation.
For this the Nigerian army chose the T-72M1 Main Battle Tank
The T-72M1 is a modernised version of the T-72 and has an additional layer of 16 mm armour-plate on the glacis plate and combination armour in the turret with pellets filler agent, smoke and grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles.
The main armament of the T-72 M1 is its 125- mm smooth-bore gun with automatic loader, coupled with a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. The T-72M1 is fitted with a new improved fire-control system able to fire the 9M119 series laser-guided missile out to a maximum range of 5,000 m.
#4 ZSU-23-2 twin barrelled anti-aircraft auto cannon.
The ZU-23-2 is a high velocity heavy calibre auto-cannon designed to engage low-flying targets at a range of 2.5 km as well as armoured vehicles at a range of two kilometres and for direct defense of troops and strategic locations against air assault usually conducted by helicopters and low-flying airplanes. It has been used in a depressed trajectory against Boko Haram vehicles.
#3 CH-3A Rainbow UCAV
The CH-3A Rainbow Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily against dynamic execution targets and secondarily as an intelligence collection asset.
Attack drones are no more automated than a fighter aircraft. The chief difference is that the pilot is sitting hundreds of kilometres away, rather than in the aircraft itself,which might sound like something out of science fiction. But the CH-3A UCAV has been in use with the Nigerian Air Force since 2014.
Command & Control Structure
The CH-3A UCAV is Nigeria’s primary and only offensive strike unmanned aerial vehicle with a standoff capability. it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive target.
Seeing how effective they have been in combat operations, its easy to see why Nigeria will certainly buy more military drones, and use them in an increasing number of ways. They’re too cost-effective, and too useful, for a cash strapped Nigeria trying to maintain its ageing and small fleet.
In 2016 the NAF announced its decision to replace the CH-3A armed drone with the more capable Yabhon Flash-20 UCAV. It reached a deal with the United Arab Emirate for 10 Yabhon Flash-20 UCAV. This will give Nigeria’s already formidable attack drone fleet a giant leap in capability.
#2 Palmaria 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer
The Palmaria is one of the most powrrful self propelled howorzers in the 155mm class. Its serviced by a crew of 10 and carries 28 complete rounds of ammunitions. Its used to increase the mobile indirect firepower of Nigerian infantry formations. It has a maximum sustained firing rate at 4 rounds per minutes for 3 minutes.
It has hydraulically powered traverse mechanisms that can be operated from the gunners position. The howitzer has an automatic loading system, providing a rate of fire of one round every 15 secondsor a burst-fire rate of three rounds every 25 seconds.
The loader has 23 ready rounds, with seven more rounds stored in the hull the overall firing rate is normally one round per minute for one hour. Intense firing is four rounds in one minute. Sustained fire is one round every three minutes for an indefinite period.
The turret is hydraulic with manual backup, and has 360 degree rotation with elevation limits of -4 to +70 degrees. It has its own auxiliary power supply which conserves fuel for the main engine The gun turret can traverse rapidly and has a 360 degree rotation with elevation limits of -4 to +70 degrees. It can fire within 60 second from coming to a complete halt and has a maximum range of over 30 km.
So if you are thinking about a road trip to a war zone, this is your vehicle of choice. If you manage to get your hands on one.
You’d also be able to settle any dispute with the locals, courtesy of the big scary gun on top that can fire shitloads of ammunition.
The ability helps to protect the Palmaria from counter-battery fire. The shoot and scoot principle is extremely important when it come to working with self-propelled howitzer.
#1 Mil Mi-35 Helicopter Gunship
The NAF operates one of the largest and most advanced helicopter gunship fleet in Africa, the Mi-35M attack helicopter is the latest addition to Nigeria’s vast military helicopter fleet.
The Mi-35M is a new generation multi-role combat helicopter that delivers a more superior flight performance and manoeuvrability than its predecessor, the Mi-24 attack helicopter.
The Mi-35M helicopter integrates modern, high-precision weaponry for destroying ground-based armoured targets and providing air support for ground missions. It can be modified as an attack, ground assault, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) or transport platform.
The Mi-35M is one of the modern combat helicopters in the world with a terrifying array of weaponry. Starting with the camera’s. It has a gun turret with daytime and infrared cameras built in than can snoop from kilometres away before the loud roar of its rotor blade can even be heard by the enemy.
The pilots also have a night vission system that let him avoid annoying things like trees and mountains and night.
It’s fibre-glass rotor with its titanic hub glass cockpit of the Mi-35M accommodates two pilots in tandem configuration. It increases combat performance and pilot survivability. The night vision goggle (NVG)-compatible cockpit integrates multi-functional displays (MFDs), redundant flight controls and state-of-the-art avionics.
The weapons are what makes this gunship truly badass. The twin barrelled Gsh 23l 30mm cannon has a range of around 3 kilometres. But the real cool thing is that it will fire where the pilot looks, giving a whole new meaning to the idea of a death stare.
The Mi-35M has a payload capacity of a whooping 2 400 kg. It can carry a full infantry squad of 8 fully-equipped troops. Besides the gun turret, a large-caliber machine gun, as well as general purpose machine guns can be installed in the cargo cabin.
This feature makes this helicopter unique comparing other platforms in the Nigerian military’s arsenal. It’s unmatched firepower, mobility and multi-purpose mission capability makes the MI-35M truly the most fearsome machine in the Nigerian military.