A look at The Nigerian Army most feared weapon

The ZSU-23-3 “Shilka” radar guided self propelled anti-aircraft cannon is Nigeria’s deadliest mobile fire on the move anti-aircraft gun system for protecting tank regiments. It is one of the most lethal anti aircraft system ever made.


It weight about 25 metric ton. The vehicle with its 580 litre tank has an operating range at 500 km with a top speed of 30m/h. Combined with infrared and regular white light illumination, the vehicle is capableof operating at night in tactical conditions.


The track is a basic simple steel single pin track with bolts on the end holding the pins in place.


It’s six cylinder diesel engine cranks out 280 horse power. It feature four water cooled radar guided 23 mm cannon and a radar. This makes it lethal and accurate than the ZSU-23-2.

Nigerian army ZSU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannon
The water cooled quad barelled guns of the Shilka.
The water cooled quad barelled guns of the Shilka.


Trust me you do not want to have the Shilka aiming at you. It will be a very bad day.

The rate of fire of this machine is beyond what the enemy can comprehend.

It carries a crew of four. Driver, commander, gunner and radar operator. The driver sits in the front left and the other three are in the turret.


The driver in the front left is completely isolated from the rest of the crew. He operates a manual gear shift, (five speed transmission forward and one speed in reverse.


The left hand side of the turret is where the commander sits.


In the centre is the gunner and to the right, the radio operator.


On either side of th main armament are the storage bin for the ammunition. Two thousand rounds of ammunition combination of armour piercing or high explosives or ovariants thereof, UN to rounds belts. 520 rounds for the upper guns, 480 for the lower.

The ammunition is fired off in salvos of anything between two to ten round per. Basically this was a aerial denial weapon.

In a battlefield the Nigerian army doctrine calls for the networking of a triad of Roland SAM and SA-7 shoulder launched anti-aircraft missile systems.

A Nigerian soldiers weilding an SA7″Strela-2″ man-portable anti-aircraft missile system.
A soldier sits atop a Roland short-range tactical anti-aircraft missile system.

Roland SHORAD and SA-6 MANPADS will force attacking aircrafts low to the ground into the ZSU-23-4 Shilka’s deadly operating envelop.

Quad barelled ZSU-23-4 Shilka self propelled 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon
Quad barelled ZSU-23-4 Shilka self propelled 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon

In the assymetric battlefield against Boko Haram it is used by troops as a ground support weapon. Four 23 mm barrels is going to do lot of damage against ground infantry and light skin he vehicles like the Toyota 4×4.


Since then guns can elevate to 85 degrees there are very few heights or cliffs or rocks that cannot be adequately dealth with by the water cools cannons.

Nigerian army Quad barelled ZSU-23-4 Shilka.

It has a radar and an optical backup, so if the radar goes down you can still engage manually with simple using the eyeball, and estimating lead on your own.


The radars are mounted at the rear end of the turret in a stowed position. It has two radars? one acquisition and one tracking and guidance radar.


2019-09-07 23.06.17


The cannons are slewed to aim at where the tracking radar is getting a return signal from, adjusted for range/elevation, target, speed and direction. It does have an optical backup. So if the radar goes down you can still engage manually with simple using the eyeball, and estimating lead on your own.

Certainly better than the cannon rate on Russias new Pantsir AD system, which is amazing considering the 50 year difference between the two systems. To this day no country in the world, not even the United States has made a better close in air defense system.


    • So as the ZSU Shilka 23-4…. The only difference between it and the new pantsir, is the pantsir never technology and range, but when you talk about heavy punch.. The AA gun is an hardware to recon with, Boko Haram’s night mare!


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