Nigeria is developing a national coastal defence alignment based mainly on unmanned platforms.
Under a USD260 million contract signed in March, Israeli Aeronautics Defense Systems will design and build the naval array, providing manned and unmanned naval and aerial systems, coastal radars and command-and-control centers.
This structure will cover all of Nigeria's 853 km coastline and will be designed to protect its territorial waters and the offshore oil platforms in the Niger River delta.
To manage the project, the Nigerian government has established a special office that will be linked to the Nigerian Navy, Coast Guard and Ministry of Transportation.
The array will be based on Aeronautics' Aerostar tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the Seastar unmanned surface vehicle (USV). Three Aerostar systems will be provided, each including three to six platforms, and three Seastar systems, including several USVs.
Both systems are controlled through Aeronautics' Unmanned Multi-Application System terminal and software, which provide air vehicle and payload control and enable the integration of different sensors. The Aerostar, with 14 hours operational endurance, is equipped with Controp's Dual-Sensor Stabilized Payload DSP-1, providing day/night surveillance coverage.
The 11 m-long Seastar USV provides a mission range of 350 n miles and can carry payloads up to 2,500 kg. It could be equipped with day/night sensors, electronic surveillance measures, electronic intelligence/communications sensors, sonar and a stabilized gun system. Together they will comprise an unmanned formation of maritime surveillance and response. A similar structure in Angola, created by Aeronautics, has been operating for three years.
The alignment will be complemented with two manned maritime patrol aircraft, equipped with an Inverted Synthetic Aperture Radar.
Under the terms of the contract, 10 naval radar stations will be built along the coastline. Aeronautics will set up two command-and-control centres at the Nigerian Navy's Western Command in Apapa, Lagos, and at the Eastern Command in Calabar. A national command-and-control centre will be established at navy headquarters in Ojo, Lagos.
All centers will receive real-time surveillance information from the various platforms and could control the unmanned missions.
The Nigerian Navy has faced an increasing number of attacks in recent months on the oil rigs in the Niger delta by various guerrilla groups. With an ageing fleet, mostly in an advanced stage of decay, the navy was seeking to reorganize its force to meet the threats under considerable budget restraints. In addition to the new surveillance alignment, the Nigerian Navy will establish three forward operating bases in the delta region and has procured six Defender-class fast response boats from SAFE Boats International.
For Aeronautics, the new contract marks substantial growth. "It is one of the largest projects in the world in the area of unmanned systems," a spokesperson for Aeronautics told Jane's. "The contract grants the company an unshakable status as a global leader in this area."
Source: Nigeria develops unmanned coastal capability
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