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The Nigerian separatist group the Indigenous People’s of Biafra, under pressure from the Nigerian military, recently met with representatives from the Cameroonian separatist forces who operate under the banner of the Ambazonian Defense Force. If these two organizations form an alliance, it could represent an existential threat to both Nigeria and Cameroon and lead to civil war.
All that may be about to change. After half a century as one of Africa’s most stable and peaceful states, Cameroon is sliding into a vicious, though largely unreported, civil war.
The Ambazonian War has since caused the death of more than 2000 people while 530,000 have been displaced. About 180,000 Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria putting more pressure on the already stressed infrastructure in the country’s Eastern flank .
The Belligerents in Ambazonian War
Cameroon’s dictator, strongman, and friend to France – President Paul Biya ( a former rebel leader), who has clung to power since 1982, and absolutely refuses to listen to demands for equity. While on the other side, more than five million impoverished English-speaking southern Cameroonian citizens who are demanding a fairer share in the dividends of democracy.
Countering the Cameroonian Military’s assault, is the Ambazonia Defence Forces, a “rag-tag” military organization that fighting for the independence of Ambazonia, a self-declared independent state in the Anglophone region of Southern Cameroons. Not really surprising is the fact that several different armed groups have since emerged in support of the ADF such as the Red Dragons, Tigers, ARA, Seven Kata, ABL amongst others,
ADF fighter during an operation
The Cause of the Ambazonian War
The Ambazonian civil war began when Anglophones protesters marched against plans to impose French-speaking judges on them. The government responded with a violent crackdown on protestors.
This oppression led to protests across the Southern Cameroon region. Biya responded by cracking down on the protesters resulting in at least 17 people killed.
Biya has been accused by Amnesty International and the United States for purposefully committing human rights atrocities like burning of houses, arbitrary murder, residents displacement and kidnappings.
The ADF and its various factions have also been named as likely culprit in some atrocities, however, it has yet to be substantiated till date.
Biafra and the Nigerian Government
Across Nigeria’s eastern border towards Cameroon, the threat posed by another highly organized separatist group led by Mazi Nnamdi Kano; a Nigerian with British citizenship has been temporarily curtailed.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which was formed as a breakaway group of the Movement for the Actualisation of Biafra with the sole purpose of completely severing ties with Nigeria through non-violent secession.
For now, as the Nigerian Government’s “divide and destroy tactics” coupled with the intimidation of the Biafran separatist members, they continuously lose focus, ground, and drive.
This has created an avenue for resentment to flourish amongst the Biafran rank and file as well as its sympathizers.
A Military Alliance between Biafra and Ambazonia
These two separatist forces are leveraging on cultural and historical sentiments since they share a common history and heritage, are banding together to present a more formidable front to national forces in West Africa.
Early 2018, the top hierarchy of the Biafran separatist group under the banner of the Pro Biafra Groups, met in Enugu State, with the Prime Minister of Biafra Government in Exile in attendance and some other diaspora leaders of other pro-Biafra groups.
The leadership resolved to work together with the leadership of the Ambazonian Republic from Southern Cameroon, some of the issues discussed is a bilateral relationship as well as an alliance in achieving their objective.
Regional Consequences of a Military Alliance between Biafra and Ambazonia
If these two groups successfully form an alliance, in an asymmetric conflict, the separatist allies could “easily share valuable scarce resources, bolster their depleted ranks, accumulate valuable combat experience, provide a safe haven for fighters and also acquire human intelligence through the notoriously porous Nigeria/Cameroon border.
Such an alliance poses an existential threat to the unity and existence of both Nigeria and Cameroon given that at the moment, Boko Haram and ISWAP are constantly pushing and probing from the Northeast of Nigeria, bandits are ravaging the Northcentral along with the current farmer/herder crises still troubling Nigeria’s centre. The Nigerian military, although quite tenacious, cannot really hold these multiple forces at bay without crumbling.
Nigeria is the largest oil and gas producer in Africa, with the majority of its crude oil coming from the delta basin. Nigeria desperately needs its oil revenue to keep its battered economy running. Also, the bulk of Cameroon’s industrial output, including its only refinery, is in the Ambazonian region. Hence, the economic impact of such an alliance could threaten the integrity of the West Africa, the future of the Economic Community of the West African States, also known as ECOWAS, and the overall security, stability and progress of the entire subcontinent.
With the Nigerian and Cameroonian military already stretched thin and battered by years of constant war, if an alliance of ADF and Biafran separatist is allowed to succeed, it would open up opportunities for Boko Haram and ISWAP to grow stronger and overrun several key cities in the region, destabilize the economic balance and also the equipoise of military region in Africa.
Lithuania’s LiTak-Tak facility has delivered an upgraded SA-6 surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to the Angolan military.
The upgrade includes restoring the service life of the 2K12-ML standard by replacing 99% of old components. Thus, the 2K12-ML system now has new software for target processing and display. which enhances overall combat performance.
The Lithuanian-based company stated that the new 2K12-ML upgrade allows the system to operate in complex jamming environments, as well as the ability to target small and low-flying targets such as cruise missiles.
Although, the upgrade was designed by Ukraine’s Aerotechnica-MLT, which supplied upgrade kits to Lithuania. However, industry sources disclosed that the missiles and radar vehicles were acquired from Poland and Ukraine.
To support its numerous military procurement activities, the Angolan government has provided in the budget for 2019 the allocation of 1.65 billion euros for the defence sector, which is equivalent to 5.16% of all public spending planned for this year.
In August 2018, a Belarusian delegation visited Luanda, Angola, and discussed issues such as the creation of assembly lines, repair and maintenance of military equipment and anti-aircraft defences.
During the events to mark the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL), 2019, held at Ikeja Cantonment in Lagos, the Nigerian Army, on Saturday 6th July, unveiled several Nigerian-made light armoured fighting vehicles and other equipment of warfare produced by the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company in partnership with Proforce Defence.
At the event, the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai said that “We are all aware that the country is facing numerous security challenges and this has necessitated the Nigerian Army’s current involvement in conducting numerous operations across the country. “
But perhaps, the most impressive feature of the celebrations is the demonstration of Nigeria’s local capacity to manufacture various types of armoured vehicles. Nigeria’s premier defence company DiCON, in collaboration with Command Engineering Depot of the Nigerian Army, has manufactured infantry patrol vehicles, tactical patrol vehicles, sophisticated mine clearance systems and other equipment of warfare.
“ Proforce, a local vehicle company has also displayed its Mine resistant anti-ambush protected vehicles, these are designed 100% at Proforce, in collaboration with the Nigerian army.
“ Already some African countries have purchased armoured vehicles from this company. Nigeria, will in another decade, manufacture most of its military hardware.”
Proforce Improved Ara Mk 2 MRAP
The Improved Ara (Ara II) is a heavily modified derivative of the original Ara (Thunder), Proforce Limited launched the PF Ara 2 MRAP in 2019. Eight of which were delivered to the Nigerian Army in 2018 out of an order of 30. Proforce Nigeria disclosed that the Ara II offers significant enhancements, most notably a fully monocoque hull.
The Proforce Ara Mk 2 features a monocoque vehicle built to STANAG level 4569 protection standards with double skin protection of Level 3A and 3B, and an underbelly of 4A and 4B. This protection level ensures an underbelly with a V-shaped hull design that can withstand a 10 kg mine.
The higher ground clearance of 442 mm and the central tyre inflation system enhances the vehicle’s off-road capabilities and can take this vehicle to urban, mountainous and challenging rural terrains, Proforce said.
Development of the improved version began in January 2018 after feedback from the Nigerian military, with the capacity to carry up to 12 personnel plus equipment, the PF Ara 2 can be configured into multiple MRAP variants for a wide range of missions including recovery, command and control, ambulance, field kitchen and reconnaissance.
The Ara 2 has a length of 7.1 metres and a height of 3.3 m, and a gross weight of 15 tons. A 12.7 mm machinegun can be mounted on a 360-degree roof turret which can be open or fully enclosed. Optional equipment includes slat armour, gun ports and grenade launchers as well as reactive armour, according to Proforce Defence.
Meanwhile, NAVMC, officially established at the beginning of this year, is developing several armoured vehicles, including an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) called the NA-IPV 2 and a light armoured tactical vehicle called NAC-V. Both are 4×4 and feature 360 degree enclosed turrets.
The new armoured personnel carrier (APC) called NAC-V 4×4 is intended to replace soft-skinned vehicles in the Nigerian Army inventory.
The Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAVMC), which was formally commissioned on 26 January this year, displayed a prototype 4×4 armoured personnel carrier and mine roller gear. NAVMC is developing several armoured vehicles, including an All-terrain vehicle (ATV) called the NA-IPV 2. Both are 4×4 and feature 360 degree enclosed turrets.
“Nigeria has recently been bedevilled by different forms of insurgencies: Boko Haram, kidnapping, armed banditry, armed robbery and cattle rustling, but the demonstration of locally made bulletproof ballistic vests, NA armoured light tactical vehicles and mine sweepers produced by NAVMC showed that the military will soon be better equipped to stem the challenge”, Buratai added.
The NAVMC NAC-V 4×4 offers protection from small arms fire up to STAGNAG level 2-3, it can withstand 6kg of TNT/ low-yield IED. Also, it features a Night vision camera for nocturnal operations as well as the option for an indigenous Remotely Operated Weapons System (ROWS).
An initial order for 600 units is expected. However, the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai said the NAVMC needs at least N1 billion ($2.7 million) of investment, which the Army is sourcing to build vehicles to combat terrorists and insurgents.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant- General Tukur Buratai has said that the Nigerian Army suffered some limited setbacks in the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North East, partly due to the ineffectiveness of some armored fighting vehicles and other light skin vehicles imported from overseas.
He said the Service will begin to export combat vehicles to other African countries in the year 2030.
Militaries of Iraq, Djibouti, Lebanon, Romania and Argentina will be supplied with Oshkosh Defense Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) variants in a United States contract worth $320 million.
The FMTV is a series of vehicles, based on a common chassis, that vary by payload and mission requirements.
According to the company, a commonality of parts across chassis variants reduces the logistics burden as well as operational and support costs. Crew-protecting armour and advanced technologies work in concert to provide the capability, versatility, mobility and protection to move troops and supplies, recover vehicles and weapon systems or haul equipment wherever the mission requires.
With its ergonomic, adjustable driver seat and steering wheel and an electronic Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS), the FMTV powers over terrain with full-time all-wheel drive, an integral transfer case and a fully automatic transmission.
FMTV enhances crew survivability through the use of armor capable cabs, three-point seat belts, automatic braking system, and central tire inflation capability. FMTV enhances tactical mobility and is strategically deployable in C-5, C-17 and C-130 aircraft (excluding wrecker).
The FMTV is derived from the Austrian Steyr 12 M 18 truck, but substantially modified to meet U.S. Army requirements, these including a minimum 50 per cent U.S. content.
The FMTV is offered in a variety of versions including; FMTV 5-Ton Tractor, 8.8-Ton LHS, Cargo 4X4 / 6X6, 10-Ton Dump and 5-Ton Wrecker. Work will be performed in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 24, 2021.
Spokesman of the Eastern Libyan forces, Ahmed Mismari said on Friday 28, June that Commander Khalifa Haftar will ban any commercial flights from Libya to Turkey,
He said any aircraft or ship arriving from Turkey attempting to land in the capital Tripoli would be treated as hostile.
General Haftar Khalifa of the Libyan National Army (LNA) claims that Libya is under Turkish invasion, and as a response, his forces will arrest all Turkish citizens in Libya, deal with any entities working with Turkey.
Haftar who is angry at Turkey for providing air cover to UN-backed Tripoli government to re-take key town Gharyan this week. (credit: Sky News)
Earlier, Haftar had said that his forces are trying to free the capital Tripoli from militias which they blame for destabilizing Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.
But critics have accused him of deepening unrest by trying to seize power through force.
The constant war in Libya has left the oil-rich nation divided and caused living standards to plummet, disrupting oil production, creating a vacuum exploited by militants and causing a mass exodus of migrants to leave for Italy by boat.
After the forces loyal to the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) entered the city of Garyan to the south of Tripoli a few days ago in a bloody offensive, a large cache of sophisticated weapons was retrieved.
Since early April, the Libyan National Army (LNA) has been engaged in an offensive to gain control of Tripoli. The city of Garyan, located on the strategic highway to the Libyan capital Tripoli and the main forward base for the LNA where troops, weapons and ammunition arrived from the East.
Since then, the Government of National Accord (GNA) has been waging a counteroffensive (code-named: Volcano of Rage) to prevent the LNA from completely capturing Garyan as well as Tripoli.
In a surprise attack, GNA forces allied to the Tripoli government, backed by air strikes, stormed the town, some 90 km (56 miles) south of Tripoli.
Weapons retrieved by GNA-forces when they captured Garyan, includes various types of the UAE-made ADCOM Yahbon drones, an M79 Osa, some heavy machine guns, a Russian 9M133 Kornet ATGM and at least four U.S. made FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles.
The ADCOM Yahbon drone is usually used as aerial training targets, for air defence drills, however, the Yahbon drones captured in Garyan were missing key parts and are in poor condition, which might suggest that perhaps, Haftar’s forces intended to use them as makeshift guided missiles
Various ADCOM drones captured by GNA forces during the counter-offensive to capture Garyan (credit: Volcano of Rage)
ADCOM Yahbon series drones (credit: ADCOM)
The M79 Osa (“wasp”) is a Yugoslav-made portable 90 mm anti-tank weapon made of fibre-reinforced plastics.
The FGM-148 Javelin is a U.S. made man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile, it uses automatic infrared guidance that allows the user to seek cover immediately after launch, as opposed to wired-guided systems.
The Javelin’s High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead is capable of defeating modern tanks in a top-attack mode. It is also useful against fortifications in a direct attack flight. As of January 2019, over 5,000 Javelin missiles have been fired in combat.
Countries in the Middle East currently operating the Javelin includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.
More details regarding the Aerospatiale SA341 Gazelle observation and light attack helicopter belonging to the French military which crashed in Mali on June 14.
The SA341 Gazelle helicopter deployed in Mali with the French Army’s Light Aviation (Aviation Légère de L’Armée de Terre: ALAT) supporting Operation Barkhane was shot down by jihadists, close to the border between Mali and Niger was shot down by enemy fire.
All three personnel onboard were immediately rescued.
According to details from a Request For Information (RFI), it explains that Operations Barkhane soldiers who were fighting in the centre of a jihadist hideout on the border between Mali and Niger, the Gazelle helicopter was hit by 7.62 mm caliber fire from a Kalashnikov-PKM machine gun, causing a fire and then a loss of engine power, forcing the crew to make a forced landing near the combat zone on dusty ground and with bad visibility.
The pilot and aircraft commander at the front of the aircraft were injured by the hard landing, while in the back, a commando sniper was lightly injured, and managed to pull his comrades out of the helicopter, before a Tiger attack helicopter cames to assist them, at the risk of being shot.
Following the controlled crash landing, the two pilots were extracted by being strapped to the landing gear of an Airbus Tiger attack helicopter. The third person, a special forces soldier, destroyed the damaged Gazelle before being exfiltrated in another helicopter.
The Aérospatiale Gazelle is a French five-seat helicopter, commonly used for light transport, scouting and light attack duties. The French Army has deployed the Gazelle overseas in many large-scale operations, often in support of international military intervention efforts.
Following the overthrow of former Libyan ruler Mohammad Ghadafi by NATO forces and local fighters in 2011, various arms and weapons looted from the military’s stockpiles has found their way through the porous Sahara desert down south fueling internal crises and regional conflicts. Thus, the French military has been engaged in counter-terror operations since then.
The Nigerian Army new light tactical vehicle referred to as the Infantry Patrol Vehicle II (IPV 2) or All-Terrain Vehicle has entered serial production.
The All-Terrain Vehicle now referred to as the Infantry Patrol Vehicle (IPV 2) was designed by the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAVMC), in order to help address Nigeria’s internal security challenges.
During a tour of the production lines at Rigachikun in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna state, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai stated that the first set of the indigenous “light tactical vehicles’’ produced by the company would be exhibited on July 6.
Nigerian Army Infantry Patrol Vehicle II (IPV 2) or All-Terrain Vehicle (credit; AIT)
He said that NAVMC was collaborating with Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) in the production of the vehicles. The army chief, however, noted that since the ’60s, there had not been a serious effort at producing military equipment locally.
Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai also explained that “the Nigeria defence complex, DICON, will soon be turned around for good. Furthermore, he said that the NAVMC IS working on mass production of the vehicles.
“The vehicles will help us in curtailing the insecurity in the country. I know everybody is concerned about the insecurity.
“But unfortunately, over the years, since the ’60s, we have not made any serious headway in defence production and local defence production.
As you might expect, the NAVMC ATV II now referred to as the IPV 2 draws from the Nigerian Army all-terrain vehicle design, powered by a petrol engine. The vehicle can accommodate two or four passengers
The Nigerian Army had invested extensive research into developing the NAVMC ATV II to meet its requirements and also Africa’s defence market.
During the commissioning of the IPV/ NAV-C armoured combat vehicle on June 2019, Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the Nigerian Army would source N1 billion to support its Vehicle Manufacturing Company.
In order to enhance its operational effectiveness, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has taken over three l-39ZA albatross aircraft, which were reactivated in-country by Aerovodochody, the original manufacturers of the aircraft.
The reactivation was carried out in Nigeria by Messrs Aerovodochody of Czech Republic, assisted by NAF engineers and technicians.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the Director of Public Relations and Information explained that the reactivation will ensure that the NAF increases the number of fighter pilots available to man its existing fighter jets as well as the new platforms, such as the A-29 Super Tucano and JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Fighter, which are to be inducted into NAF inventory soon.
The three L-39 Albatross aircraft were handed over on the 21 June 2019, at the NAF 403 Flying Training School (403 FTS), Kano. The Czech Republic Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Marek Skolil, was in attendance.
During the handover ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, while making his remarks, explained that the handing over of the 3 reactivated aircraft marked another milestone in NAF’s efforts to ensure that 403 FTS continues to operate optimally.
Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar also noted that the in-country reactivation of the aircraft was also done in pursuit of the overall objective to domicile all maintenance and training activities locally, thereby resulting in huge foreign exchange savings which could be channelled towards providing other facilities.
The CAS emphasized that the Service, having recognized the fact that conducive atmosphere was key to ensuring that students derive maximum benefit from training institutions, had renovated and equipped classrooms; upgraded and re-equipped the map room and provided a new Computer-Based Training (CBT) Laboratory to supplement and enhance the training efforts of 403 FTS.
According to Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), “the Service is looking forward to sustaining the good working relationship that has been re-established as well as having a long and fruitful partnership that is beneficial to the 2 countries. It is also my belief that we will reach a reasonable conclusion on plans to overhaul an additional 6 x L-39ZA aircraft”, he added.
The CAS thanked the Nigerian government for providing the funds for the NAF to acquire new platforms such as the A-29 Super Tucano, JF-17 aircraft as well as additional Mi-35M and Agusta A-109 Power helicopters.
In his remarks, the Czech Republic Ambassador traced the history of the long-standing cordial relationship between Nigeria and the Czech Republic since independence, especially the various contributions in terms of military-technical assistance, equipment and training. He especially noted the supply of the l-29 aircraft, which were used for training as well as combat operations during the Nigerian Civil War.
He noted that this paved the way for the acquisition of the l-39ZA, which has been used extensively by the NAF for training over the past 33 years and, more recently, for operations in the Northeast. Mr Skolil expressed his delight that Aerovodochody, which has been in the Aviation Industry for over 100 years, had completed the reactivation programme on time as well as to specification. He said the Company has continued to evolve with changing technologies and recently launched the first prototype of the latest version of the l-39, the l-39Next Generation (l-39NG), which would be available for acquisition by the NAF at a reduced cost since modernization elements in the existing l-39s would not be phased out with their airframes but transferred to the new l-39NG.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commander 403 FTS, Air Commodore Nnamdi Ananaba, highlighted that the reactivation of the 3 aircraft had commenced a few months after the graduation ceremony of Basic Flying Course 18 (BFC – 18), when the school did not have enough aircraft to accommodate an increased demand for fighter pilot training occasioned by the need to meet aircrew requirements for newly acquired platforms. He lauded the CAS, who, he said, in a characteristic manner, declared a state of emergency and orchestrated the processes that led to the reactivation of the 3 l-39ZA aircraft, within record time, as well as the improvement of facilities in the school to accommodate a larger intake of students. At the end of the ceremony, an acceptance flight, which featured some aerobatic manoeuvres, was conducted on the newly reactivated aircraft.