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Nigerian Air Force discreetly receives 5 Chinese-made Wing Loong II drones.

| 2023

The Nigerian Air Force has taken delivery of at least five Wing Loong II combat drones from China albeit discreetly, Military Africa writes. This acquisition marks a significant step forward for Nigeria’s military capabilities and further strengthens the country’s ability to combat insurgency and terrorism in the region.

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Nigerian Air Force discreetly receives 5 Chinese made Wing Loong II drones The Nigerian Air Force’s new Wing Loong-II registration numbers are NAF 141, 142, 143, 144 and 145 (Picture source: Military Africa)

In April 2023, a Wing Loong-II with registration Number NAF 145 was seen in the hangar of 553 Base Service Group (BSG) ( formerly belonging to the 405 Helicopter Training Group (HCTG) NAF Base, Enugu, Military Africa reports.

The Chengdu GJ-2, also known as Wing Loong 2, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight, developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group in the People's Republic of China. Intended for use as a surveillance and aerial reconnaissance and precision strike platform, Chengdu unveiled the concept of Wing Loong II at the Aviation Expo China in Beijing in September 2015. The Wing Loong II UAV MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) is an enlarged version of the Wing Loong I with a longer body and wider wing span of 20 meters (65.6 feet) for a length of 11 meters (36.1 feet). It weighs approximately 4.2 metric tons (9,259 pounds) . It has a slender fuselage, V-tail, and ventral fin. The aircraft features retractable landing gear made of two main wheels under the fuselage and one single wheel under the nose. Each wing has three hard points under the wings to carry bombs, rockets, or air-to-surface missiles. A satellite communications antenna is fitted on the top front surface of the fuselage, offering long-range data transmission between the UAV and the ground station. Wing Loong II has long-range strike capability with a satellite link. The drone is powered by a single turbojet engine that allows it to reach a maximum speed of 750 km/h (466 mph) and a maximum altitude of 9,000 meters (29,500 feet).

The drone is equipped with a variety of sensors and payloads, including a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system, an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) imaging system, and a signal intelligence (SIGINT) system. These sensors and payloads allow the drone to perform a wide range of tasks, such as target acquisition, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare.

Nigerian Air Force discreetly receives 5 Chinese made Wing Loong II drones 2

Wing Loong II displayed at Dubai Air Show 2017 (Picture source: Wikipedia/Mztourist)

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been actively developing its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities in recent years. As of September 2021, the NAF's drone fleet consisted of various types of UAVs, including:

• CH-3A Rainbow: The CH-3A Rainbow is a Chinese-made medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone that is capable of conducting reconnaissance, surveillance, and precision strikes. The NAF acquired three of these drones in 2018.
• Wing Loong II: The Wing Loong II is another Chinese-made MALE drone that is capable of conducting both reconnaissance and strike missions. The NAF acquired several of these drones in 2020.
• GULMA: The NAF has also developed its own UAV called the GULMA, which is designed for reconnaissance and surveillance missions. The GULMA has a range of up to 100 kilometers and can stay aloft for up to 10 hours.
• Amebo: The Amebo is another domestically-produced UAV that is designed for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It has a range of up to 10 kilometers and can fly for up to 45 minutes.
• DJI Phantom 4: The NAF has also acquired some commercial off-the-shelf drones like the DJI Phantom 4 for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

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