The circle of drone warriors is growing, slowly. Today, Nigeria announced a successful drone strike in its ongoing war against the militant group Boko Haram. With it, Nigeria joins a dubious club of the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, and Iraq who have all used armed drones in modern war.
While we’ve seen evidence of Nigerian armed drones before, notably after one crashed, this time there’s video evidence of a strike, released by Nigerian itself.
There are two big implications from this strike. The first is that, when the United States doesn’t sell countries drones over fear of how they’ll use them, the countries buy their drones from elsewhere, often China.
Much of Nigeria’s drone arsenal are Israeli-made Aerostar UAVs, which are unarmed. Nigeria also has its own, locally-made drones that strongly resemble these Aerostars, and are likely also only surveillance tools. Instead, for the strike it looks like the drone was a Chinese CH-3.
The CH-3 is an armed adaption of earlier Chinese reconnaissance drones, and has been in Nigeria’s inventory since at least 2014. In the video released of the attack, there’s a large blast, and the Nigerian Air Force claims they hit a logistics base belonging to Boko Haram, possibly an ammunition storehouse. Nigeria, like Iraq, appears to buy their armed drones from China.
The second major implication is that, despite more nations using drones, they all seem to be using them in a similar manner to the United States: for counter-insurgency warfare. This is perfectly expected: modern military drones drones are slow, lightly-armed airplanes with cameras, best at flying for a long time and scanning the ground below. When nations today get armed drones, this is how they plan to use them. It will take a lot of change in technology for those drones to start being a threat to other countries.
Watch the video below: