NEWS ANALYSIS: Exploring innovative potentials in Nigerian Army

A lot of innovations have emanated from the Army’s research and development initiative in line with the desire of the Nigerian Army to enhance its operational effectiveness through research and development.

This is also part of the vision of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.

In response to these needs, the Nigerian Army signed a partnership with the Defence Industries Cooperation of Nigeria (DICON) on Nov. 12 to collaborate with the Command Engineering Depot (CED) Kaduna for mass production of vehicles for the military’s counter insurgency and other operations across the country.

The partnership agreement was in furtherance of the government’s effort to reduce reliance on foreign countries to acquire the needed equipment for its operations toward addressing the prevailing security challenges.

DICON was established by an Act of Parliament in 1964 to produce weapons and other equipment for the country’s Armed Forces and reduces reliance on foreign suppliers.

It is also charged to develop the local capacity of the officers and men to collaborate with its strategic partners to produce research outcomes that would lead to local production of military hardware within the country.

One of the results of such effort is the successful fabrication and production of an indigenous Mines Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles nicknamed EZUGWU MRAP which is made up of over 70 per cent local resources and 100 per cent local engineers.

At the opening of the 2019 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference on Dec. 3, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the first set of Ezugwu MRAP vehicle, named in honour of Maj.-Gen. Victor Ezugwu for his performance against insurgents in the north east region.

The features of the Ezugwu MRAP are reinforced to withstand small arms fire ranging from 7.62 mm to 12.7 mm from a distance of 10 metres.

Using innovative and revolutionary flat-bottom technology, it can resist Improvised explosive and mine blast up to 12 kg under the vehicle as well as double enclosed turret which can traverse 360 degrees and both turrets can mount all types of munitions in the Nigerian Army inventory.

For exceptional maneuvering ability, Ezugwu MRAP comes with an independent suspension system, a 4×4 wheel drive and a 615 WD turbo Diesel engine, mounted in the front of the armoured hull designed from the ground up on the Tatra 4×4 chassis.

Other vehicles produced by DICON and CED are the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) designed with the utmost precision for armed forces and other law enforcement agencies with wide array of available options and configurations.

The options include SPV Attack, SPV Trooper and SPV Carrier as well as the Infantry Patrol Vehicle (IPV) which is a light non-armoured patrol vehicle designed for quick personnel insertion, patrol and special forces related operations.

According to the user information, the IPV design was borne out of the need to create a vehicle that is civilian friendly especially in highly volatile areas and yet satisfy operational requirement.

Similarly, the army engineers also invented and produced mobile borehole driller and fuel-less power generator specially designed to provide facility support for the troops in the battle field as well as Mobile field kitchen and mobile bakery powered by solar energy.

At the inauguration ceremony in Kaduna on Dec. 3, President Buhari commended the collaborative effort of DICON and Command Engineering Depot with relevant indigenous organisations to promote local content towards the development of the military industrial complex.

He said that the production of Ezugwu MRAP and other infantry patrol vehicles was a testimony that the research and development efforts of Nigerian army had yielded positive results.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, said that the intended benefits of research and development in Nigerian military was even more significant in contemporary times considering the myriad of security challenges confronting the nation.

He said that the Nigerian army’s giant stride had turned on the new vista of opportunities for the country to become a global competitor in the manufacture of military hardware.

“The Boko Haram insurgency in particular has provided an appropriate impetus for the Nigerian army to seriously task the ingenuity of its personnel and come up with innovative ideas to address the current terrorism challenge.

“This is particularly worthy of note because even the terrorists are known to be innovative with captured weapons in the pursuit of their nefarious activities,” he said.

Similarly, Buratai said the vehicles were innovative and inventive products of Nigerian army’s research and development of its military industrial complex, adding that the Ezugwu MRAP was an entirely indigenous production effort from start to finish by the team of Nigerian army engineers and their partners.

“The vehicles have been tested in the various theatres of operations against Boko Haram insurgents as well as Birnin Gwari area against bandits.’’

Buratai assured that the deployment of the Ezugwu MRAPs to the battle field in the north east and other parts of the country would be a game changer in the battle against insurgency, banditry and other security challenges confronting the country.