The Nigerian Army says it is working with some of its indigenous and foreign partners in the defence industry to produce prototype helicopters for its operations.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, stated this on Wednesday in an interview with newsmen after inspecting some stands at an exhibition of locally manufactured military equipment.
“The Nigerian army is already working on its own prototype helicopter.
“This is one issue –prototype helicopter that we are very much concerned about and we hope to have it on the ground very soon,’’ Buratai said.
He said that the army had been working in the past few years to get value for the research it had embarked upon to produce some of its equipment locally, adding that “this is our target.’’
He also said that the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, had made remarkable improvement in the “mobile concept’’ of using motorcycles for operations.
Buratai said that the army would continue to carry out research, go into partnership and encourage local production of its equipment with its limited resources and also solicit for funding from both government and private sectors.
While declaring open the 2nd Nigerian Army Research and Innovation Summit, the chief of army staff said the Nigerian army had benefited from major partnership with some local manufacturers.
He said that the partnership had resulted in the development of platforms, spares and equipment in support of the army’s operations.
“The Nigerian army is currently considering an MoU with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to formalise our collaborative efforts in the local production of our immediate sustenance requirement,’’ he said.
Buratai said that the army’s experience in the last few years had led to the review of its “Order of Battle’’ which saw the expansion of its divisions from five to eight.
He said that apart from the expansion, special units such as the Special Forces Brigade, Motorcycle Battalion and the Nigerian Army Aviation were created.
“It is therefore, our resolve that any future procurement in support of the Nigerian army transformation initiative must be predicated on developing an efficient maintenance and production capacity.
“The Nigerian army has paid too high a price for over dependence on importation of military equipment and platforms.
“We found that to be too expensive, unsustainable, inimical to professional proficiency and detrimental to our national security,’’ he said.