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US demos RQ-11 to Djibouti as it provides AMISOM with UAV expertise

An RQ-11 Raven being demonstrated to the Djiboutian military.The United States military’s Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) has conductedan RQ-11 Raven unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) demonstrationfor the Djiboutian military, as it provides a UAV surveillance system to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

A CJTF-HOA spokesperson told IHS Jane’s that a United Kingdom-led intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) training course was held for AMISOM personnel in Mogadishu ahead of the system’s arrival. The course concluded on 25 August and involved CJTF-HOA personnel.

IHS Jane’s reports that the project involves providing AMISOM with a contractor-owned and -operated system, but other details were not forthcoming.

Meanwhile, on 21 August, US Army Soldiers assigned to the CJTF-HOA Task Force Warrior, deployed to Camp Lemonnier from the 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, conducted the first official demonstration of the Raven RQ-11 to Djibouti Armed Forces (FAD) personnel.

According to the US instructors, the demonstration served multiple purposes. It was a chance to effectively familiarize FAD members with the unmanned aerial vehicle system, clear up confusion between the RQ-11 Raven and other UAVs, and demonstrate that the Raven can be operated safely.

The demonstration was led by US Army Staff Sgt. Michael Martin, assigned to Task Force Warrior. Martin, along with a team of Soldiers currently completing certification in Raven operations, explained the specifications of the system, conducted a flight demonstration, and allowed the FAD soldiers to view a simulation of the system’s surveillance capabilities.

With a 4.5 foot wingspan and a weight just a little more than four pounds, the Raven system offers aerial observation for about a six mile range. It is launched by hand and thrown into the air. It can provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in day and night time conditions.

“Due to the fact that the FAD doesn't have RPA in their military and have yet to see small RPA operations, this demonstration will hopefully provide clarity,” said US Navy Cmdr. Hyun Chun, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa liaison to the FAD.

After the hands-on demo, the FAD officers plan to report their findings to their chain of command to determine if the RQ-11 will benefit FAD operations that will help maintain stability and security in Djibouti and beyond, CJTF-HOA said.

“A couple of other AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] troop contributing countries (TTC) are using Raven for their deployed units,” said Chun. “The FAD will review if Ravens will improve their operations, especially in Somalia.”