If you know your enemy you need not fear thousands battles.
Intelligence. Surveillance. Reconnaissance. This makes the difference between mission failure and mission success. Nigeria is a decade ahead of the continent in almost every spectrum of ISR capability, in Space, in the air, at sea, and this capability was only developed in just over the last decade.
To really understand how Nigeria could accomplish such a feat in so short a time we must go back 20 years.
It started in Space.
NIGERIA IN SPACE
August 2001 President, Olusegun Obasanjo announces the establishment of a National Space Agency, with an initial budget of $93 million, with the primary objective of establishing a fundamental policy for the development of space science and technology in Nigeria.
In 2002 the Nigerian government turns to Britain for cooperation in the field of space research and technical, assistance.
2003 Nigeria launches Africa’s first telecommunications sattelite into orbit.
In 2005 the first sattelite photo of Hurricane Katrina is taken by a Nigerian sattelite NIGCOMSAT-1
In 2006, with technical assistance from the UK’s Surrey Sattelite Technology, NigeriaSat-2 is launched, It is the world’s most advanced remote sensing sattelite and had the clearest resolution of any sattelite in space.
In 2008 Nigeria becomes the first African country to employ the use of unmanned aerial vehicles when it aquired six Aerostar unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel, to monitor oil pipelines and other vital infrastructure at the height of the Niger Delta crises.
The Aerostar drone proved too limited. It lacked the range and endurance required. A more robust and capable platforms was needed.
In 2010 Nigeria aquires two ATR-42 Surveyor from the Italian company Allenia. They most sophisticated Maritime Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft in Africa.
In 2014 Nigeria became the 4th country after Israel, the United States and Britain to actively employed the use of armed drones in the world.
In 2016 the Nigerian Navy begin operating the the Falcon Eye Maritime Surveillance and Monitoring System. The most sophisticated maritime monitoring system in Africa.
In 2018 the NAF establishes the most sophisticated GeoSpatial Intelligence Data Centre in Africa.
Due to the nations security imperative, Nigeria has been the continental leader in investing in land, sea and spaced based intelligence gathering infrastructure for years and today, Nigeria’s ISR platforms and sensors are by far the most sophisticated in Africa.
Today there are more Nigerian sattelites in orbit than all of Africa combined. This space based infrastructure consists of four orbital sattelite. One of which is NigeriaSat-2, one if the most sophisticated remote sensing sattelite in the world.
NigeriaSat-2 is one of the most sophisticated remote sensing sattelite in the world. The government awarded a contract to SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.) of Guildford, UK, to develop and build NigeriaSat-2, including the related ground infrastructure and image processing facilities, together with an extensive training program to further develop an indigenous space capability of Nigeria.
The objective of the NigeriaSat-2 mission is to provide high-resolution (Pan and MS) imagery in a swath width of 20 km. In addition, the spacecraft also carries a DMC continuity payload to provide observation continuity.
Nigeria leads the way in electro-optical imaging for high accuracy technical intelligence. Nigeria’s airborne sensors offer the latest in reconnaissance and remote sensing technology for maritime and air to ground surveillance, for real-time battlespace awarness.
The fight against Boko Haram has become a learning opportunity for the Nigerian military as it looks to a future of taking on a very adaptable and resourceful opponent.
One of the lessons learnt by the Nigerian military is that collecting organic data is not enough. Youve gotta gather intell sources from around the country, exploit the information, and distribute the information where its needed most.
The Nigerian Air Force lack the assets and numbers necessary to ensure air superiority, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon. The NAF aversion to aquiring high performance combat aircraft boggles the mind. In today’s battlefield but if you dont know where your enemy is, it is completely useless, and no other platform in the NAF fits that description better than the F-7Ni interceptor, Alpha jet trainers and Aero-L-39 trainer/light attack.
These antique aircrafts that lack modern search radars constitute %100 of the NAF fixed wing combat aircraft.
Fortunately the ATR -42 ISR aircraft and King Air350i s are sophistcated enough to offer multi-function sensor solution for Nigeria’s antiquated combat aircrafts, for total coverage of air to air or air to ground, for maximum survivability and lethality in the battle space.
There is also the realisation that low cost technology solution can provide advantages in an era of constrain budget. From tactical high grade threats to border security to national emergencies, Nigeria’s ISR platforms offers a robust, relevant and cost effective ISR solutions. For this reason Nigeria’s investment on high spectrum surveillance, monitoring and space research is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
CH-3A RAINBOW ARMED ATTACK DRONE.
In March 2018 the Nigerian Air Force made history when it graduated it’s first locally trained unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilots for the Chinese-built CH-3 UAVs.
The first five newly trained UAV pilots were given their wings by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at the Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron Base in Maiduguri.
The entire programme lasted for 10 months, culminating in check flights for each of the five new UAV pilots. At the moment, the new pilots each have nearly a hundred hours each on the CH-3A UCAV.
NAF attack drones armed with precision weapons was frequently used during the fight to take back Sambisa and to take out senior BHT commanders, vehicles and artillery placements.
The CH-3A was inducted into the NAF in 2015. Accordingly to the NAF, the CH-3A, in combat role, has successfully delivered its ordnances against Boko Haram targets with high degrees of precision and accuracy, both day and night.
The most feared assets of the Nigerian military now are the UAVs and the precision weapon they carry. Thats the one that always has them (Boko Haram ) looking over their shoulders.
The CH-3, with a wingspan of eight metres, has a 12 hour endurance and 180 km radius of action. It can be fitted with FT-5 guided bombs or AR-1 missiles.
TACTICAL RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON
The NAF has pioneered the act of persistent surveillance with armed UAVs. The 24/7 observations enable air force intel analysts to compile information about the target and order one or more missiles fired as soon as target is identified and located.
EYES AT 60,000 FEET” ATR-42 MPA
The Nigerian army have been dealing with an enemy that has proven to be surprisingly organized and resourceful in its ways. It took time for the military to realize that ISR operations are the foundation upon which every joint interservice operation can achieves success, and come up with a strategy that works for this kind of warfare.
The ATR-42 MPA is built to get high up and provide standoff surveillance capability. It can stay away from hostile terrain and look far into hostile territory. It can gather data, digitize it and share it via data link to ground control and any aircraft in real-time.
The objective of this airceaft is to detect at long range, air and ground threats and provide that information to friendly units like fighter aircraft. The ability to detect threats at long distance is key. Not only so that it can alter friendly units in time to act, but also to stay out of range of surface to air missiles and enemy interceptor aircraft.
Commanders are looking at the feed, the SIGNT, the imagery the aircraft is taking and are able to plan and workout a real-time plan based on the information gathered.
Another important mission of the aircraft is to provide command and control. This means not only providing information on the enemy, but also to help direct friendly aircraft.
In January 2015 Boko Haram had captured a huge chunk of territory in Borno state. Nigeria’s newly sworn in President, Muhammadu Buhari gave his new Service Chiefs 12 months to take back those tertitory.
The Service Chiefs came together to strategize on ways of recovering those territories. One of the strategy they devised was to maximize the use of ISR platforms, most especially the ATR-42 MPA. They decided to use the ATR-42 as an airborne Command Post. To that end the Air Force invited the GOC of the Nigerian army 7th Division and his Field artillery commander to be onboard the ATR-42 while troops were advancing to capture most of those territories.
KING AIR 350i
KingAir 350i is similar in capability but lacks the range and service ceiling of the ATR-42.
The King Air’s integrated sensors can provide tactical intelligence to air and ground units spread out along many different squadrons, and even different branches of the military to share data on what they see.
This means that if one aircraft detects a threat, every other friendly aircraft can instantaneously get that information and react. It can share anything from images to text messages, to audio, enabling them a full tactical picture of the battlefield.
Smaller ISR aircrafts like the Diamond Electronic & Sensor are also in service with the Air Force.
Combatant commanders expect and demand the unique ISR capabilities that only the Nigerian Air Force can provide. However the reality is that the Air Force will never be able to povide all the ISR the joint forces want.
The NAF is trying to remedy this with local capacity for UAV’s. Nigeria is already making progress in this at with the inductions of the Gulma Tactical UAV and Tsaigumi UAV.