The Nigerian Army has officially started operating Textron Systems’ Aerosonde drone, enhancing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
The $9-million foreign military sale of multiple Aerosonde Mk 4.7 Fixed Wing unmanned vehicles, awarded in August, marks the first time the African country acquired US-made drones.
“We know the Aerosonde system will make a difference for Nigeria as it provides the most cost-effective real-time ISR capability in its class,” Textron’s Vice President Wayne Prender said.
The 12-feet (3.7 meters) Aerosonde is a small unmanned aerial system that delivers reliable capabilities through more than 14 hours of flight endurance.
The multi-mission aircraft can carry up to 20 pounds (9 kilograms) of payload and has a hydraulic pneumatic launcher and net recovery trailer.
“Designed for expeditionary land- and sea-based operations, Aerosonde is equipped to deliver simultaneous day/night full-motion video, wide area surveillance, voice communications relay, signals intelligence and more,” Textron said.
Insurgencies in Nigeria
The new drones are expected to join the Nigerian Army’s drone fleet to boost counter-terror operations across the country.
Since 2010, the densely populated African country has faced widespread insurgencies from gangs of bandits.
On March 28, heavily armed men attacked a moving train near Nigeria’s capital Abuja, leaving at least eight people killed and 168 missing.
In December 2020, more than 300 school boys were abducted from a boarding school in Kankara, northwestern Nigeria.