South African firm Paramount Group has confirmed that it exported Marauder mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles to Nigeria.
Following reports earlier in March 2019 that the Nigerian Air Force’s land regiment had procured Marauder MRAPs, Paramount Group has confirmed the sale, with Senior Vice President Eric Ichikowitz saying, “We are privileged to work alongside the Nigerian Air Force, commending, through the acquisition and deployment of the Marauder, their continued commitment to enhancing their national defence and internal security capabilities and prowess.”
He added, “Nigeria’s Government also understands not only the leadership role they play in international peacekeeping missions across the ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States], but indeed how to effectively address the evolutionary nature of those cross-regional challenges posed by threats such as organized insurgencies.”
In a report on the acquisition, defenceWeb noted that the vehicle’s desert camouflage suggests they will be deployed to Nigeria’s northeast, where the country’s military is currently fighting against the militant group Boko Haram. Boko Haram – which has split into two factions, one of which pledged loyalty to the Islamic State – is active in the Chad Basin area straddling northeastern Nigeria, southeastern Niger, southwestern Chad, and northern Cameroon, posing a counterinsurgency challenge for the four countries.
The vehicles are fitted with the Jordanian-made Snake Head turret, which includes a 7.62mm machine gun. Marauder MRAPs can withstand a side blast of up to 50kg of explosives – providing Nigerian troops better protection from improvised explosives used by Boko Haram.
Paramount Group did not indicate how many vehicles were delivered. DefenceWeb previously reported that a first batch had arrived, with follow-on orders a possibility.
Ichikowitz said, “We look forward to building on our strong and longstanding relationship in support of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, by providing highly innovative and advanced solutions to embolden the nation’s frontlines of modern-day defence and security.”
He added, “Paramount’s proven, portable manufacturing model can play an important role in the establishment of local manufacturing capabilities enabling the diversification of the nation’s economy and the potential to foster sustainable job creation. These are shared efforts that we believe to be vital to maintaining Nigeria’s continued trajectory.”
Nigeria’s local defense industry is small, but the company Proforce Ltd has developed an indigenous MRAP, called Ara, which is entering service with the Nigerian military. Partnership with an established industry like the South African Paramount Group would be a boost for the Nigerian industry.