Nigeria’s military has taken delivery of VT-4 main battle tanks, SH-5 self-propelled howitzers and other equipment from China in an effort to strengthen its land forces in the battle against Boko Haram militants.
The equipment was acquired from China’s Norinco after being ordered last year under an apparent $152 million contract.
The equipment was unloaded on 8 April and included VT-4 main battle tanks, SH5 105 mm self-propelled artillery and other items.
Nigerian Army Chief of Policy and Plans Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun said, “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.”
Adeosun said the delivery from China includes main battle tanks, light tanks and two types of artillery.
He added that personnel have been trained in China to operate the equipment.
According to Nigerian media, 17 vehicles were offloaded on Wednesday, including VT-4 main battle tank and ST1 light tanks.
In May 2019, Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali, said the Nigerian government had provided funding for the acquisition of modern equipment for the Nigerian armed forces, with some in service and others on the way.
This included 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.
In addition, four Ships, 182 rigid hull inflatable and Epenal boats, four inshore patrol craft, two STAN Patrol Vessels and one helicopter were procured for the Nigerian Navy.
The Nigerian Air Force has benefited from the acquisition of 25 fixed wing aircraft and 12 helicopters, Dan-Ali said at the time.
The VT-4 (MBT-3000) main battle tank was built by Norinco for the export market and unveiled internationally in 2012.
The 52-ton vehicle has a crew of three (commander, driver and gunner – an automatic loader reduces crew numbers).
It is armed with a 125 mm smoothbore cannon, 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 vehicle’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.
The SH5 self-propelled artillery system is a development of Norinco’s SH2. It is armed with a 105 mm gun on a 6×6 platform.
The gun has an elevation of zero to 70 degrees with traverse being 30 degrees left and right. Range of the weapon 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.