Nigeria Orders More Chinese Military Drones Despite Quality Concerns

military drone africans on china
Credit: African Military Blog

On January 25, 2015, a Chinese made CH-3 drone owned by Nigeria crashed and landed upside down. Despite this incidence, Nigeria has purchased 8 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to Janes.

According to international insider, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar revealed the acquisition during a visit to an air component deployed at Katsina in the Northwestern part of the country on October 8. He also added that about 70 personnel have been selected to travel to China to be trained to operate and maintain the new UAVs. They are expected to be deployed in Katsina, Gombe, and Gusau.

On September 7, at a ground-breaking ceremony for a new airbase in Gombe, the Nigerian Air Force said it will be the home of the new 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group (203 CRG), which will operate UAVs and other air assets it did not identify.

According to Janes, Gusau, in Zamfara state, West of Katsina, does not currently have a paved runway for the UAVs, although Nigerian Air Force deployed ground forces to the city earlier this year in the form of a quick reaction group.

In the last five years, the Nigerian air force has been operating Chinese made CH-3 UAVs that can carry guided weapons. The CH-3 is just one in a series of UAVs found under the Rainbow name produced by the Chinese industry. It is the armed version of the unarmed CH-1/CH-2 drone series. It came from China aerospace science and technology corporation (CASC), and are part of CASC ‘Rainbow’ line of UAVs that began with CH-1 and has since evolved into the CH – 901 models. Its system propulsion is provided by a three-blade propeller driven by a pusher engine mounted on an empennage. The main landing wheels of the tricycle landing gear have fairing to reduce drag.

General Stephen Townsend, Commander of US military command in Africa (AFRICOM), has said that the Nigerian Airforce uses its CH-3’s infrequently due to their “poor quality”. He also added that African leaders purchase Chinese equipment due to low cost. He said they do not address the underlying military need, which complicates US security force assistance. He made this statement during the senate armed services committee.

Do African leaders purchase equipment from China due to low cost or quality?

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