The Nigerian Army is fixing some of its dilapidated T-72 main battle tanks acquired in 2015 during the start of the terror insurgency in the northeast.
At least 25 T-72s have been refitted and readied for combat operations across various theaters, and a subsequent batch will also be repaired and brought to fighting state, says an informed sources.
Nigeria acquired a mix of T-72A, T-72AV, T-72M1, T-72B from Hungary, Czech, and Ukraine in 2014-15. T-72B model was acquired from Ukraine in 2014, and T-72M1 was acquired from Czech in 2015.
The total price of the delivery was estimated at USD8m (N1,536,400,000), with a unit price per tank of $8 million.
Through Czech company – Excalibur Army – Hungarian T-72A and T-72M1s were sold to Nigeria. Sixteen T-72 M1 tanks, BMP armoured infantry fighting vehicles, and rocket launchers were shipped to Nigeria on board a Ukrainian AN-225 Mriya freighter.
The first batch of four tanks took off from the Ostrava airfield on 26th January on board of Ukrainian AN-225 Mriya (number UR-82060). Before the departure, the vehicles undertook to service in one of the Excalibur Group’s facilities (probably VOP 026 Šternberk).
Nigeria also signed a contract for T-72AW tanks with Ukraine in 2014 but probably due to the civil war at the time, the tanks were embargoed.
At the time of their delivery and deployment, the T-72 tanks were responsible for the success of the counter-terrorism operations at the time, particularly in Michika, Gwoza, and Madagali.
At the start of the new offensive, the rehabilitated T-72s will operate alongside the newly acquired Chinese VT-4 main battle tank, ST-1 gun support vehicle, and Norinco Type-89 tracked armoured vehicles.
Commenting, Boboye Adeolu, a Nigerian defense analyst opined that the Nigerian Army “seems not to be leaving anything to chance this time and with those reactivated T-72s it might be possible to see ST-1s at the head of logistics movements followed by MRAPs and Mengshi, it would be interesting to see ISWAP trying to ambush such well-defended logistic trains..”
Last year, the Nigerian Army cancelled a deal for 10 second generation T-90 main battle tank from Russia worth $43.68 million.
The T-90 is a third-generation main battle tank designed by Russia in 1993. The tank is a vastly updated and modern variation of the T-72B and incorporates many advanced features.
The T-90 order was then replaced “with 60 Legion MRAP, fitted with DSHK Guns, Codan HF Vehicular Radio and Automatic Turret with Pre-Shipment Inspection; and 24 Phantom II APC Including Pre-Shipment Inspection, Complete with Spares, Training and Maintenance.”