Nigeria’s military on Tuesday took the wraps off a new aircraft to tackle high-seas pirates off the country’s coast, as well as maritime hijackers and oil thieves.
The high-tech plane is one of
be operated by the state-run Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety
Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Air Force.
It includes sensors,
radar and Electro-Optic Surveillance and Tracking (EOST) equipment,
which houses three cameras to monitor ships in Nigerian waters, said
Sergeant Sunday Olalekan Omotosho.
“When fully operational, no
vessel can escape our coverage,” he told reporters before a
demonstration flight from Lagos to Escravos in the Niger Delta and over
offshore platforms in the oil-producing southeast.
plane can fly as low as 200 feet (60 metres) above the sea and passes on
information about maritime traffic to the navy, who can intervene with
fast-attack craft if necessary, he added.
“Our aim is to fight all
manner of maritime crimes in the country. With this aircraft, we can
spot any vessel hundreds of kilometres (miles) away,” said Air Group
Captain Enobong Eneh Effiom.
The aircraft is inscribed with the words: “Vigilance over the ocean.”
off the western coast of Africa has been rising in recent years, with
attackers targeting ships playing a key role in the region’s thriving
Early this month, global maritime watchdog the
International Maritime Bureau said West African piracy made up 19
percent of attacks worldwide last year.
Nigerian pirates accounted for 31 of the region’s 51 attacks — the most since 2008.