Algeria displays Adcom Systems Yahbon Flash 20 and United 40 UAV

Algeria has put into service several United Arab Emirates (UAE) made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The Algerian Ministry of Defense (MOD) released a video footage on the national TV – Algerian TV showing two arned Adcom Yabhon United 40 MALE UAV and two smaller unarmed Yabhon Flash-20 UAV.

The video footage which was posted on 20 December confirms the long-expected delivery of the Adcom Systems medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs to Algeria with at least two armed Yabhon United 40 (named locally as ‘Algeria 54’) platforms and two smaller unarmed Yabhon Flash-20 (‘Algeria 55’) platforms shown on the flightline at Polygone Central de l’Air à Hassi Bahbah ahead of a military demonstration.

During the 2013 Dubai Airshow, Ali Al Dhaheri, the CEO and general designer for Adcom revealed to the media that Algeria was interested in the Block 5 version of the Yabhon United 40 armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) MALE UAV. He also said that Algeria has a requirement for unarmed surveillance and reconnaissance UAV to track militants across its vast southern desert regions. The Yabhon Flash-20 was first showcased at the same event two years later.

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While the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 and Yabhon Flash-20 are two of a number of UAVs developed in the UAE by Adcom Systems, however, the Algerian MoD hints that the Algeria 54 and Algeria 55 UAVs have been domestically manufactured, suggesting that it has bought the rights from Adcom. “It should be noted that these drones were built locally by engineers, technicians, and executives of the National People’s Army,” the MoD said.

First revealed in scale-model form in 2007, the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 UAV features Adcom’s distinctive double fore and aft main-wing configuration.

The rise of al-Qaeda militants and increase trafficking in the vast Sahara desert has become an area of concern for Algeria. It wants to assert its authority in the south and assure its security with the help of the UAS and track its targets.

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Local reports have also stated that the government is interested in the US-made General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporation (GAASI) Predator/Reaper platform. Should Algeria prefer the Yabhon United 40 Block 5, developed from a platform in the United Arab Emirates, it will become the second country after Russia to acquire it.

Performance specifications released at the Dubai Air Show give the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 a cruise speed of 120-200kph, an endurance of over 100 hours, and a service ceiling of 26,000 ft. In terms of payload, the aircraft is fitted with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), terrain avoidance systems and a gimbaled camera. It can carry 1,050 kg on its four under-wing hard points and has a 6-unit rotating dispenser mounted in the fuselage.

Darek Liam

Darek Liam is the North African editor for AMB, where he writes about the intersection of Technology and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as African Union correspondent.