Nigerian army using 40 year-old weapons to fight Boko Haram

Nigerian soldiers deployed to fight Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East are using outdated weapons and equipment, including Shilka air defense systems purchased between 1979 and 1983, PM News reports.

Nigerian army using 40 year old weapons to fight Boko Haram
ZSU 23-4 Shilka (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

Unidentified Nigerian officers said the archaic and defective weapons place their soldiers at great disadvantage when they confront the terrorists, during operations. The report said the poor weapons are responsible for the heavy casualties the country had suffered in the anti-insurgency war in recent times, noting that old weapons failed during operations.

The top military officers explained that Shilka, an air defense system already used during the Vietnam war, are kept in active duty. An officer said: “The Shilka guns were acquired under Shagari’s government. We have many of them but they are outdated, so they were refurbished, even though a lot of their components are missing. However, they were deployed in the North-East for the anti-insurgency war like that, hence they fail during battles. Recently, Boko Haram even stole one from the troops. So, while we are battling with the refurbished Shilka, ISWAP fighters deploy the latest technology to attack us, and you know the President said a week ago at an ECOWAS meeting that how the terrorists deploy more sophisticated weapons is a matter of concern.”

Another officer, who is currently engaged in operations in one of the toughest operational zones in the North-East, said apart from Shilka, they used to have in their inventory Soviet-era Tank 72s, also known as T-72s, which was made in Russia and manufactured in 1971 but sold out in 1972. He added, “They were procured by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration towards the 2015 elections and they were used to capture lost territories, but unfortunately, the tanks came without spare parts. From time to time, we cannibalized one to fix another until they broke down and they were withdrawn from operations because there were no spare parts".

The sources explained further that beyond using drones, the insurgents were now using night vision goggles, thermal detectors and other modern equipment to attack the Nigerian troops.