In an effort to collaborate with the Nigerian Army School of Artillery, the Nigerian Navy recently established the Nigerian Navy School of Armament Technology, as both schools train on similar weapons systems and guns. This move created the necessary synergy with the army for greater interoperability in any joint effort.
The Nigerian Navy School of Armament Technology is to provide training support in desert warfare and pre-deployment training support for Special Boat Service operations in conjunction with the British military assistance training team.
Though no where near the league of North African countries, the Nigerian military is the highest ranked military in Sub Sahara Africa, ranked 4th in the Global Firepower Index (GFP), behind Egypt, Algeria and Morocco.
The Nigerian army and Navy have earned their respect for peacekeeping in many politically unstable African countries, sacrificing a lot in men and material in maintaining regional security despite numerous challenges.
The Nigerian army and Navy has never really been big on firepower, instead numbers and organisational structure takes precedence. So what are the most powerful weapons of the Nigerian Army and Navy ?
Palmaria 155 self propelled howitzer
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 of them, you’ll also be able to settle any dispute with the locals, courtesy of the big scary gun on top.
The Palmaria howitzer has an automatic loading system and can fire a shitload of different munitions at a rate of fire of one round every 15 seconds or a burst-fire rate of three rounds every 25 seconds.
This is awesome. It’s range is also impressive. It can accurately hit a target at 400 freaking kilometres. That’s hitting a target at a range where you can barely see a bus.
MI-35M helicopter gunship
The Mi-35 is a fully digital attack helicopter with a terrifying array of weaponry.
Starting with the cameras, its has a rotary turret with daytime and infra-red cameras built in that can snoop from miles away without the enemy even realising they are being spied on. The pilot also have a night-vision system that lets him avoid annoying things like trees and mountains at night.
The weapons though are what makes this helicopter truly badass. The 30mm cannon has a range of around 5 kilometres, but the really cool this is as a helmet sight controlled rotary turret, giving a whole new meaning to the idea of a “death stare”.
There are also 80mm rockets, air to ground missiles and 500kg bomb. This is awesome. It can be fully automated, combining the computer, radar and missiles to identify, priotize and blowup 16 targets in under 30 seconds. All with no human intervention. This helicopter carry more payload than the F-7Ni interceptor and Alpha jet. In Africa only the South African Roovialk attack helicopter is more capable.
Sometimes simple is best. The Nigerian army has an entirely semi-autonomous company of snipers who operate independent of the army.
Their rifles can fire an 8.59 mm cartridge out to 1.10 km with incredible accuracy.
CH-3A ATTACK UAV
The CH-3A Rainbow is a Chinese made missile armed UAV designed to sneak through radar and bomb the crap out of whoever the government doesn’t like at the moment.
NNS Thunder & NNS Okpabana
The 378 ft high endurance cutter class are the largest cutters in the world. Powered by diesel engines and gas turbines as well as a controllable pitch propellers. They are equipped with a helicopter flight deck, retractable hangers as well as the facilities to support helicopter deployment.
This warships were introduced into the Nigerian Navy inventory as a patrol frigate in 2011. Highly versatile and capable of performing a variety of missions, they are the only warship in Africa capable of operating throughout the world’s oceans.
The U.S Navy stripped the ship of all offensive and defensive weapons systems when delivering it to the Nigerian Navy, leaving only its 72 mm deck guns. There are no plans by the navy to give the ship anti-ship missile capability given its current operational status of peacetime patrol in the Gulf of Guinea.
Unlike the situiation in Nigeria’s northeast, should conflict erupt with an adversarial navy, specially in the Gulf of Guinea where %80 of the nation’s oil wealth is derived from, Nigeria will likely respond with the full weight of its forces in the region.
Taking advantage of its helicopter deployment capability, attack helicopters like the Augusta Westland Power helicopters and drones will be deployed on-board NNS Thunder and NNS Okpbana. They will be supported by Mi-24 helicopters flying from nearby land bases.
Though not widely known, the Nigerian Navy has a history of flying helicopters into combat from naval vessels. And much of that experience actually derives from clashes in the Niger Delta crises. During the Niger Delta crises, MEND militants, in conjunction with other militant groups tried to bring Nigeria to its knees and strangle Nigeria’s oil exports by attacking tanker ships out at sea.
Nigerian ships lacked weapons and other gear better suited for fighting nimble rocket armed militants on speedboats, and small landing crafts turned into deadly mine layers.
So the military rushed MI-24 helicopter gunships as well as Augusta Westland helicopters fitted with door mounted machine guns to the creeks. The choppers flew from navy ships and modified oil service badges to attack militant patrol boats in areas too narrow for patrol ships to negotiate.
If the Nigerian air force finds itself moving into the over-water business again, this time it will be with a more potent helicopter fleet armed with missiles, rockets and of course 30mm guns.
These helicopters can easily takeout fast attack boats if they ever try to swarm around Nigerian ships or oil infrastructure, and the only ships in the Nigerian Navy capable of providing launch platforms and operational supports for deep helicopter strikes far out at sea are NNS THUNDER and NNS OKPBANA.
Together with their unmatched endurance and range, by virtue of it being the only ship in Africa able to circumvent the continent on one tank, they are the most powerful weapon of the Nigerian Navy.