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EPAIL From Nigeria Delivers 20 New Locally-Made Mengshi Light Armored Vehicles to Nigerian Army.

Equipment Protective Applications International Limited (Epail), a Nigerian defense contractor, has delivered 20 new light armored vehicles to the Nigerian Army. These vehicles were showcased during the 24th Combat Service Support Training Week at Abalti Barracks in Lagos. The handover ceremony, attended by officials including the representative of the Minister of Defense and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, featured the transfer of 20 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs).
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Nigerian Army has receives 20 new light armored vehicles from EPAIL. (Picture source: Nigerian MoD)

These IFVs are upgraded versions of the Mengshi CSK-131 Dong Feng light armored vehicle, originally developed by the Chinese company Dongfeng. The Nigerian authorities leased these vehicles for their capability to effectively detect and engage adversaries. Brigadier General Tukur Gusau highlighted the advanced capabilities of these vehicles at the event on May 8, 2024.

Epail's commitment extends beyond production to include training operators and providing post-sale services such as maintenance and repairs. The company, which had previously collaborated with the Nigerian government and the Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) for military equipment production, has started mass production of these locally manufactured vehicles. This initiative is part of a broader Nigerian strategy to reduce reliance on foreign military supplies and strengthen national security by enhancing the army's operational readiness with locally produced technology. It should be noted that the design of these vehicles originates from China.

The Dongfeng CSK-131 is a light protected vehicle developed by Dongfeng. This model is an evolution of its predecessor, the EQ2060, featuring a complete chassis overhaul, a new engine, and significant electronic improvements. It includes onboard computer systems with digital map software and Beidou satellite communication and positioning systems. To enhance night visibility, the vehicle is equipped with two night-vision cameras, one for the driver and one at the rear door.

In terms of dimensions and capacity, the CSK-131 is 5,100 mm long, 2,400 mm wide, and 2,000 mm high. Its total weight is 6,300 kg, with an empty weight of 3,700 kg. It has a payload capacity of 1,400 kg and a towing capacity of 2,000 kg.

The CSK-131 is available in several variants tailored to specific needs. For instance, the Command Post version, known as CSK-131 Command Post, features an advanced communication suite. The Armored Reconnaissance variant includes armaments such as a 12.7 mm machine gun and a 35 mm automatic grenade launcher, mounted on a remote weapons station. This version also comes equipped with electro-optical sensors and radar on a retractable mast, enabling it to conduct combat reconnaissance missions and provide fire support guidance for artillery. Another variant is equipped with four TL-4 fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles, making the CSK-131 capable of responding to various battlefield threats.

Vehicle production in Nigeria is part of the country's efforts to address various security challenges, including conflicts with Boko Haram and tensions between farmers and herders. By producing these vehicles on its own soil, Nigeria aims to achieve faster acquisition times, better maintenance capabilities, and a more adaptable military force, thereby enhancing its autonomy in national defense and reducing reliance on external sources during geopolitical uncertainty.

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