May 20, 2014
By Dan Williams and Tim Cocks
JERUSALEM/LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria bought Israeli surveillance drones years ago that might have been used to hunt for more than 200 girls held by Islamist rebels, but poor maintenance has left them grounded, two official sources and the aircraft’s manufacturer said.
“To the best of our knowledge, these systems aren’t operational,” Tsur Dvir, marketing officer for Aeronautics Defense Systems, a firm based south of Tel Aviv that supplied Nigeria with Aerostar unmanned aerial vehicles, said on Tuesday.
A Nigerian government source and a former military attaché to Nigeria both confirmed the information, although they said details were sketchy owing to the secretive nature of Israeli-Nigerian military cooperation.
The Nigerian military did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the disclosure could further embarrass President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, which has been criticized for its slow response to the hostage crisis.