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The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) unveiled its first indigenously developed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during a ceremony attended by President Goodluck Jonathon at the Kaduna air base on 17 December.
Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh said the Gulma was named after the Hausa word for gossip and was an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform.
According to the Vanguard newspaper, he said the Nigerian UAV programme began in 2005, when the now disbanded Presidential Committee on Maritime Safety and Security acquired three Aerostar UAVs from the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems.
Badeh said all three of the Aerostars were grounded in 2009 due to what he described as "vendor-related problems". IHS Jane's asked Aeronautics Defense Systems to comment on this claim, but the company had not responded by the time this story was published.
The NAF then began developing the Gulma, which A M Badeh said cost USD3 million compared with the USD6 million quoted by foreign contractors. He added that 15 UAV pilots have been trained at less than half the USD2 million cost that foreign contractors quoted to train three pilots.
The photographs of the Gulam published by Nigerian newspapers showed that it is very similar - but not identical - to the Aerostar.
It was reported earlier in the year that four NAF officers who had graduated from the UK's Cranfield University, which runs courses in autonomous systems and operations, were working on a UAV at Kaduna.