The Federal Government of Nigeria is making a comprehensive arrangement to respond to the attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta region through the importation of sophisticated military hardware.
A top military source said on Saturday that the Defence authorities had completed arrangements to bring in latest Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to boost the planned military operation in the oil-rich region.
It was gathered that the Federal Government has ordered for the Yahbon/20UAVs from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
It was further learnt that the Yahbon/20UAVs were being procured to replace the Chinese CH-3A UAV in the arsenal of the military.
It was stated that the military would rely heavily on the Yahbon/20 UAV which carries four missiles on its wings for the success of the planned operation.
Investigation revealed that some of the new UAVs are billed to arrive the country November, 2016 while the others are expected next year.
It was further learnt that the Federal Government is also purchasing MI35M helicopters from Russia to prepare the Nigerian Air Force to monitor and combat those behind the destruction of oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta.
The MI35M is the latest and more sophisticated version of the MI35 which is one of the attack helicopters of the NAF.
The source said that three of the MI35M attack helicopters are expected to come into the country from Russia in November.
It was learnt that the Defence authorities made an arrangement with the Russians to purchase 15 of the modern attack helicopters for the planned aerial operation in the South-South.
It was gathered that the Russians had also trained 33 personnel of the Nigerian Air Force on how to fly and handle the ‘all-weather helicopters’ which could operate night and day.
It was learnt that those who went for the training in Russia arrived in the country three weeks ago.
It was also learnt that the acceptance flight for the helicopters was carried out late July.
The source said, “The Federal Government is not sleeping over the attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta. Comprehensive steps are being taken on this disturbing development.
“The government is importing the Yahbon/20 UAV from Dubai. The unique thing about this drone is that it carries four missiles on its wings and it is quite effective. Very soon, Nigerians would see the difference.
“The latest drone will replace the Chinese CH-3A UAV which was found to be problematic in some ways. Apart from that, the military is also acquiring MI35M from the Russians. This is the latest version of the MI35 being used by the NAF.
“The difference is that this particular one is more sophisticated, it is all-weather and it has night capability which means that it can operate both day and night.
“Three of them will arrive the country in November this year; the plan is to bring the remaining 12 over the years.
“Some of the personnel of the NAF who went for the training on the use of the aircraft returned to the country three weeks ago. Also, the acceptance flight was done three weeks ago.”
When our correspondent contacted the Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, for his comment on the story, he said that he did not have any information on the purchase of the military hardware.
“I don’t have that information,” he said.
Also, the Director of Information and Public Relations of the Nigerian Air Force, Group. Capt. Ayodeje Famuyiwa, said that while there were plans to acquire new platforms in the Air Force, he did not have any such detail.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said while commissioning the third weaponised Alpha Jet of the NAF at the 99 Air Combat Training Group, Kainji, Niger State, on Friday, that the planned operation in the Niger Delta would require additional platforms.
He said efforts were being made to put together what was required for the planned operation, adding that the exercise would require the acquisition of additional platforms which was at the final stage of planning
“The exercise I am talking about will require additional platforms. They are now in the planning stage, very soon we will conclude that plan,” he said.