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HomeTop 5 Most Powerful Weapons of the Nigerian Military

Top 5 Most Powerful Weapons of the Nigerian Military

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Despite its short comings, (of which there are many), the Nigerian military remains among the most formidable on the continent. It’s ranked 4th most powerful in Africa in the GFP (Global Firepower Index) ranking . The vast majority of its weapons systems are quite dated and in serious need of modernization.

Unfortunately the military’s modernisation program is moving at a snail’s pace. Nevertheless, these are the five deadliest weapons that are currently in the arsenal of the Nigerian Military.

#5 T-72M1 Main Battle Tank

In 2014 the Nigerian Army began the process of replacing its Vickers MK.3 tank. The British built Vickers Mk.3 Eagle tank was the primary spearhead of the Nigerian army’s tank force and would maintain its frontline status if the Nigerian army, until the Boko boys started their campaign of terror.

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Nigerian army Vickers tank at a shooting range in Bauchi, northeast Nigeria.

Lacking in reactive armour, the Vickers tank easy fell prey to Boko Haram’s ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns mounted on their vehicles, as well as RPG’s and mines. There are incidences of Boko Haram fighters sliding a hand grenade down the barrel of the Vickers tank, destroying it.

The Nigerian army needed a tank with basic characteristics in improved firepower, protection, mobility, and reliability, as well as to approach the sophistication level of the tank of 3rd or 4th generation.

For this the Nigerian army chose the T-72M1 Main Battle Tank 

Nigerian army T-72M1 Main Battle Tank

The T-72M1 is a modernised version of the T-72 and has an additional layer of 16 mm armour-plate on the glacis plate and combination armour in the turret with pellets filler agent, smoke and grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles.

Nigerian tanks storm the Sambisa forest during an offensive to dislodge the jihadi group from their last stronghold in the 66,000 sqr km forest.

The main armament of the T-72 M1 is its 125- mm smooth-bore gun with automatic loader, coupled with a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. The T-72M1 is fitted with a new improved fire-control system able to fire the 9M119 series laser-guided missile out to a maximum range of 5,000 m.

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Inside a Nigerian army T-72M1 tank. It features improved avionics, sensors and fire control mechanism for ATGM missiles.
The T-72M1 can fire anti-tank guided missiles.
Three T-72M1 tanks during combat operations in Nigeria’s northeast.
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The T-72M1 also armed with a 12.7 mm calibre machine gun weapon station which can be aimed and fired under remote control. A range of six smoke grenades discharger is mounted to each side at the front of the turret.
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About 80 T-72M1 tanks now forms the spearhead of Nigeria’s tank force of 225 Main Battle Tanks, one of the largest and most formidable tank force in Africa.

#4 ZSU-23-2 twin barrelled anti-aircraft auto cannon.

The ZU-23-2 is a high velocity heavy calibre auto-cannon designed to engage low-flying targets at a range of 2.5 km as well as armoured vehicles at a range of two kilometres and for direct defense of troops and strategic locations against air assault usually conducted by helicopters and low-flying airplanes. It has been used in a depressed trajectory against Boko Haram vehicles.

A 40mm anti aircraft gun is displayed in Maiduguri during the visit of Nigerian President on July 6, 2018 during the celebrations for Nigeria Army day. (Photo by AUDU MARTE / AFP) (Photo credit should read AUDU MARTE/AFP/Getty Images)
The ZSU-23-2 features two 2A14 Afanasyev-Yakushev 23x152mm (.90 in) autocannons.
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The ZSU-23-2 features two 2A14 Afanasyev-Yakushev 23x152mm (.90 in) autocannons.
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The autocannon can be prepared for firing from the march position in 30 seconds and in emergency can be fired from the traveling position.
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The ZU-23-2 (2A13) mounts two 23 mm autocannons on a small trailer which can be converted into a stationary mount for firing the guns.

 #3 CH-3A Rainbow UCAV

The CH-3A Rainbow Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily against dynamic execution targets and secondarily as an intelligence collection asset.

Attack drones are no more automated than a fighter aircraft. The chief difference is that the pilot is sitting hundreds of kilometres away, rather than in the aircraft itself,which might sound like something out of science fiction. But the CH-3A UCAV has been in use with the Nigerian Air Force since 2014.

A Nigerian Airforce CH-3 armed drone with two AR-1 air to ground missiles attached on twin hardpoint  preps for takeoff on an armed mission against Boko Haram insurgents around the Lake T’Chad axis.

Command & Control Structure

The CH-3A UCAV is Nigeria’s primary and only offensive strike unmanned aerial vehicle with a standoff capability. it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive target.

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A UCAV unit comprises of between four to six people depending on the mission configuration…
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….there is the the Mission Commander.
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Two drone operators, or pilots
…..and three weapons loadout and launch crew.
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An unarmed Nigerian Air Force CH-3A Rainbow UCAV assigned to the 62 Strike Group Yola, on a takeoff run on a reconnaissance mission against Boko Haram insurgents. from the
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CH-3A pilots monitoring the vast terrain of the Sambisa forest. They can trail a target at around 12,000 feet to keep it out of sight. If  they wanted, could rain down death with the push of a button.
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It can provide real-time video and photo imagery to commanders on the ground.
Nigerian CH-3A drone strike ‘geo-located’. GPS numers shown probably around this location, 30km south-west of Bama.

Seeing how effective they have been in combat operations, its easy to see why Nigeria will certainly buy more military drones, and use them in an increasing number of ways. They’re too cost-effective, and too useful, for a cash strapped Nigeria trying to maintain its ageing and small fleet.

In 2016 the NAF announced its decision to replace the CH-3A armed drone with the more capable Yabhon Flash-20 UCAV. It reached a deal with the United Arab Emirate for 10 Yabhon Flash-20 UCAV. This will give Nigeria’s already formidable attack drone fleet a giant leap in capability.

#2 Palmaria 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer

The Palmaria is one of the most powrrful self propelled howorzers in the 155mm class. Its serviced by a crew of 10 and carries 28 complete rounds of ammunitions.  Its used to increase the mobile indirect firepower of Nigerian infantry formations. It has a maximum sustained  firing rate at 4 rounds per minutes for 3 minutes.


It has hydraulically powered traverse mechanisms that can be operated from the gunners position. The howitzer has an automatic loading system, providing a rate of fire of one round every 15 secondsor a burst-fire rate of three rounds every 25 seconds.

The loader has 23 ready rounds, with seven more rounds stored in the hull the overall firing rate is normally one round per minute for one hour. Intense firing is four rounds in one minute. Sustained fire is one round every three minutes for an indefinite period.

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Nigerian army Palmaria 155 Self Properlled Howitzer.
Nigerian army Palmaria 155 Self Properlled Howitzer.
Nigerian army Palmaria 155 Self Properlled Howitzer.

The turret is hydraulic with manual backup, and has 360 degree rotation with elevation limits of -4 to +70 degrees. It has its own auxiliary power supply which conserves fuel for the main engine The gun turret can traverse rapidly and has a 360 degree rotation with elevation limits of -4 to +70 degrees. It can fire within 60 second from coming to a complete halt and has a maximum range of over 30 km.

So if you are thinking about a road trip to a war zone, this is your vehicle of choice. If you manage to get your hands on one.

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A soldier sits on top the gun turret Palmaria 155 Self Properlled Howitzer.

You’d also be able to settle any dispute with the locals, courtesy of the big scary gun on top that can fire shitloads of ammunition.

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The ability helps to protect the Palmaria from counter-battery fire. The shoot and scoot principle is extremely important when it come to working with self-propelled howitzer.

 #1 Mil Mi-35 Helicopter Gunship

The NAF operates one of the largest and most advanced helicopter gunship fleet in Africa, the Mi-35M attack helicopter is the latest addition to Nigeria’s vast military helicopter fleet.

A NAF Mi-35M attack helicopter.

The Mi-35M is a new generation multi-role combat helicopter that delivers a more superior flight performance and manoeuvrability than its predecessor, the Mi-24 attack helicopter.

The Mi-35M helicopter integrates modern, high-precision weaponry for destroying ground-based armoured targets and providing air support for ground missions. It can be modified as an attack, ground assault, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) or transport platform.

The Mi-35M is one of the modern combat helicopters in the world with a terrifying array of weaponry. Starting with the camera’s. It has a gun turret with daytime and infrared cameras built in than can snoop from kilometres away before the loud roar of its rotor blade can even be heard by the enemy.

The pilots also have a night vission system that let him avoid annoying things like trees and mountains and night.

It’s fibre-glass rotor with its titanic hub glass cockpit of the Mi-35M accommodates two pilots in tandem configuration. It increases combat performance and pilot survivability. The night vision goggle (NVG)-compatible cockpit integrates multi-functional displays (MFDs), redundant flight controls and state-of-the-art avionics.

The cockpit and vital components of this helicopter are significantly armored.
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The cockpit and vital components of this helicopter are significantly armored.
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The Mi-35M is fitted with upgraded avionics and improved sensor package, including night vision system, giving it all wheather night attack capability. 


The weapons are what makes this gunship truly badass. The twin barrelled Gsh 23l  30mm cannon has a range of around 3 kilometres. But the real cool thing is that it will fire where the pilot looks, giving a whole new meaning to the idea of a death stare.

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An Mi-35M helicopter gunship and its panoply of weapons on display during an aircraft exhibition at the Tactical Air Command, Maiduguri.
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The Mi-35’s ‘S-8’ 80mm unguided rockets and 20 ‘S-13’ type 122mm unguided aircraft rockets on display outside an aircraft hanger.
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S-80mm radio guided rockets
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The gun can fire 4,000 rounds a minute.
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Wing-tip pylons can only carry the 9M17 Phalanga, Ataka V anti-tank missiles and the Igla-V air to air missiles.
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There are also rockets, on suspension pods, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, air to air missiles as well as cluster bombs that can laynwaste to ground targets.
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There are also rockets, on suspension pods, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, air to air missiles as well as cluster bombs that can laynwaste to ground targets.
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There are also rockets, on suspension pods, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, air to air missiles as well as cluster bombs that can laynwaste to ground targets.
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An Mi-35M with cluster bombs attached on wingtip pylons.
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A NAF Mi-35M with four cluster bombs on pylon hardpoints.

The Mi-35M has a payload capacity of a whooping 2 400 kg. It can carry a full infantry squad of 8 fully-equipped troops. Besides the gun turret, a large-caliber machine gun, as well as general purpose machine guns can be installed in the cargo cabin.

This feature makes this helicopter unique comparing other platforms in the Nigerian military’s arsenal. It’s unmatched firepower, mobility and multi-purpose mission capability makes the MI-35M truly the most fearsome machine in the Nigerian military.

Source : Defense Nigeria

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