To enhance its land warfare proficiency, the Nigerian Army has taken delivery of a plethora of next-generation armored combat vehicles from China’s state-owned China Ordnance Industries Group Corporation Limited -Norinco under a $152 million contract signed in 2019.
The new equipment which was offloaded at Apapa’s port in Lagos on Wednesday, 8 April, includes VT-4 main battle tanks, ST1 light tank, SH5 105 mm self-propelled artillery and other items.
Last year, Norinco won the federal government’s bid for the acquisition of military hardware tailored specifically to Nigeria’s requirement.
During the delivery of the armaments on Wednesday, Army’s Chief of Policy and Plans (CPPLANS) Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun said Nigerians should expect more robust operations to put behind the menace of insecurity including Boko Haram, banditry and others.
Over the years, the Nigerian Government has been long criticized for its unwillingness to end the insurgency plaguing the Northeast despite billions of funds already allocated to the fight.
Regarding that, Adeosun added that “The process of acquiring this has been on for some time but thank God they are coming in now. From this, you can see how serious the Federal Government of Nigeria is in making sure that the Nigerian Army is not only equipped, but contains problem of insecurity we are having across the country.”
“This is being tackled with trained personnel and required equipment. What you are seeing here is just a tip of the iceberg. Others are still coming but it is very important that we all see that both the military and the government are really very serious to tackle the security problems across the nation.”
Also, apparently the personnel who will man these new set of armored vehicle have undergone training in China, however, due to the restrictions caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they could not travel to Nigeria at this time.
The first indication of the new haul was in May 2019, when the Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali, said the Nigerian government had allocated sufficent funds to procure modern equipment for the forces. Some of the arms mentioned includes 35 main battle tanks, 25 Typhoon MRAPs (mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles), 10 Spartan armoured personnel carriers, 20 Armoured Guard Booths, five armoured mine-clearing vehicles, 50 troop-carrying vehicles and 40 Buffalo vehicles, among others for the Nigerian Army.
VT4 (MBT-3000) Main Battle Tank
The VT4 also known as MBT-3000 is a next generation main battle tank built by the Chinese Defense Company Norinco. The main armament of the VT4 consists of 125mm smoothbore gun fitted with a thermal sleeve and fume extractor. It carries twenty-two HEAT, SABOT and AP rounds, and fed by an automatic loader.
Other armament includes a remotely operated 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun but can also fire guided missiles. It can be fitted with a GL5 active protection system.
The MBT’s fire control unit also comprises roof-mounted panoramic sights, a laser warning device, and a digital gun control system designed to support day and night operation. A 1 200 hp turbocharged diesel engine gives a maximum speed of 70km/h and range of 500 km.
Also, it can be fitted with explosive reactive armour (ERA) for additional protection
SH-5 self-propelled howitzers
The SH5 self-propelled artillery system is also a development of Norinco’s SH2. It is armed with a 105 mm artillery gun on a 6×6 armored platform. The gun can be elevated from 0 to 70 degrees. It range is around 18 km.
The SH5 is fitted with a computerized fire-control system, including GPS navigation and positioning, targeting, and communications systems.
The SH5 has an armoured crew compartment, which is protected again small arms fire and shell splinters. The vehicle has a top speed of 100 km/h and range of 800 km.