Last month, Nigeria’s Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar revealed the acquisition of 8 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from China. Recently, Nigeria has reportedly taken delivery of four of the UAV’s, with the remaining four expected to arrive before the end of the year.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola was reported by the defensepost to have tweeted on November 10 that “Nigeria has joined China & UAE as the only countries operating the WingLoong II Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle. The 2 x @NigAirForce WingLoong II, which can remain airborne for 31hrs in ISR mode & 26hrs in an offensive role, will add significant value to COIN & anti-banditry Ops /1.”
The arrival of the Wing Loong II pair, designed and manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Design & Research Institute is believed to aid Nigeria in ongoing counter-insurgency and anti-banditry operations in the country’s restive northwest region.
Africanmilitaryblog reported that the UCAVs are currently in Gusau, Zamfara state which will be their operational base where a new runway and ancillary facilities to support the drone operations are being constructed. The UCAVs will cover several states, including Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kastina, and some parts of Kaduna state. Two of the UCAVs will be deployed to the newly formed 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group in Gombe state, and the other two will support the Air Task Force, under the ongoing Operations Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, africanmilitaryblog said.
About The China-Made UCAVs
The defense post revealed that Wing Loong II which was primarily developed for China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force for surveillance and reconnaissance missions can also be armed with a variety of weapons. This includes laser-guided bombs and missiles, such as the AKD-10 air-to-surface anti-tank missile, BRMI-90 90mm guided rocket, FT-7/130 small 130kg bomb with planar wing, and FT-9/50 50kg bombs. It is often compared to the US-made MQ-9 Reaper drone.
What Does This Move Mean For China and Nigeria?
Some experts believe that the arrival of this batch of armed reconnaissance drones is a showcase of China’s advantages in the international drone market, including mature technologies, combat-proven results, and reasonable prices.
A Chinese military expert told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that the arms sale will further open up the global military drone market for Chinese defense firms, particularly in Africa. China’s drones have unique advantages on the international arms market, due to mature drone technologies, complete systems for setups, a variety of types and sizes of drones, much lower prices compared to Western products, and complete service chains including training and maintenance.
Wang Ya’nan, a military aviation expert and chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Wednesday that Chinese drones have carried out accurate reconnaissance and precision strikes on targets even in complicated terrain and weather conditions, which makes Chinese drones combat-proven. The Chief editor also added that users of Chinese drones can rapidly boost their combat capabilities in domestic security issues and in regional conflicts.
The last assertion presupposes that, with the help of the new drones, Nigeria’s armed forces are likely to be productive and successful in its current operation Hadarin Daji against armed bandits in Zamfara state.
A report into the military capabilities of powers around the world has revealed that China’s military equipment is now being used by more than two-thirds of African countries. Can China’s relatively cheaper military equipment aid in ensuring peace and security in African countries that purchase them?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
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Africans on China (AoC) is a media-tech platform and consultancy on a mission to create a self-sufficient Africa that relates with the world, especially China, on mutually beneficial terms. We are led by a team of passionate African professionals who are experts in their field. Together, we bring decades of strategic and business expertise in the African and Chinese business and educational markets.