The Nigerian Air Force and Army are expanding their drone program to combat growing threats from militants, terror groups and insurgents.
The Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this at a recent visit to the Headquarters of the Air Component of Operation Hadarin Daji in Katsina, Katsina state, northwest Nigeria.
The Air Chief disclosed that the Air force was expecting eight Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) to be used for this purpose soon.
The personnel to man and operate the Aerial Vehicles are slated for the skill set training in China. According to Abubakar about 70 personnel of the Air Force have been nominated for the training.
The UCAVs are expected to be deployed primarily in Katsina and Gusau, Katsina and Zamfara states respectively, northwest Nigeria as part of an expanded counter measures against terrorism.
Others, according to official sources, are to be deployed in Gombe, Gombe state, northeast Nigeria under the newly established 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group to support operations against Boko Haram and its splinter faction Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP.
Humangle has learned that the Airforce is likely to acquire the CH-4 and CH-3 UCAV from China. The 2021 budget proposal includes provisions for three PD-1 multipurpose fixed-wing UAV.
The Airforce embraced the use of drones in 2006 when it acquired Aerostar drones from Israeli Aeronautics Defence Systems for maritime surveillance of the volatile Niger Delta and territorial waters.
As the conflict in the Northeast escalated, the government acquired another set of four CH-3A drones from China in 2014 for the air force.
During the opening ceremony of the Combined First, Second, and Third Quarter Chief Of Army Staff Conference in Maiduguri, Borno State, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai disclosed that the Army was setting up an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles command for Operations Lafia Dole, to expand the use of drones by ground forces.