The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) plans to indigenously develop an armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar announced during a 15 February ceremony held to mark the induction into service of the Tsaigumi UAV.
The Tsaigumi is “just a stepping stone to greater heights”, AM Abubakar said. “The next step in our UAV programme will be to develop the Ichoku, Nigeria’s first indigenously developed unmanned combat aerial vehicle.”
The NAF said the Tsaigumi was produced by its engineers in collaboration with Portuguese company UAVision, and would be used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations over land and sea.
The group captain who heads NAF’s research said the aircraft’s airframe was produced by the 431 Engineering Group at Kaduna Air Base, while UAVision supplied more technical aspects, including avionics and telemetry equipment.
Fitted with an electro-optical system that includes an infrared camera, the Tsaigumi has an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours, a service ceiling of 15,000 ft, and a mission radius of 100 km, the NAF said. While the NAF statement gave its maximum take-off weight as 95 kg, the group captain said it was 80 kg.
Another Nigerian officer said the new UAV had already demonstrated its capabilities during Exercise ‘Hard Strike’, which simulated a combat search and rescue operation to recover a downed pilot on 10 February.
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