Sub-Saharan African country orders FlyingFish signals intelligence systems


An undisclosed sub-Saharan African country has ordered FlyingFish aircraft-mounted signals intelligence (SIGINT) systems under an urgent operational requirement.

Horizon Technologies announced on 1 April that the FlyingFish order is worth more than £500 000, with the units “to be delivered as soon as possible”.

Horizon Technologies CEO John Beckner stated, “Thanks to our COVID-19 preparations which started earlier this year, and most importantly, the resilience of our UK-based supply chain in these difficult times, we will be able to deliver these new FlyingFish systems on time.”

The FlyingFish system is flying on numerous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft around the world – this includes daily missions for NATO, FRONTEX and many international customers.

Horizon Technologies calls the FlyingFish the world’s most advanced airborne satellite phone monitoring system. The UK-based company has been producing the FyingFish since 2012 and has fitted the system to more than 40 platforms including unmanned aerial vehicles and low-earth-orbit satellites. The FlyingFish Naval system can be fitted to surface ships, submarines and other platforms.

FlyingFish is used in search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea, in counter-piracy operations off the coast of East Africa and in operations in the Middle East and many parts of Africa. In the Mediterranean, for example, refugees and migrants are often cast adrift off the Libyan coast with only a Thuraya satellite phone pre-programmed with the number for a Mediterranean Coast Guard. FlyingFish is able to obtain the GPS location of the phone and pass it on to a command centre, which co-ordinates rescue assets.

“FlyingFish enables international government bodies to passively monitor satellite communications from a tactical airborne monitoring platform in the fight against the scourges of crime, smuggling, poaching, drug trafficking and terrorist threats,” according to Horizon Technologies. It can, for example in tri-band configuration, simultaneously monitor Thuraya, Isat, and Iridium satellite phone networks.

Satellite phones are widely used by terrorists, smugglers and other criminal networks. Somali pirates, for example, use satellite phones and have been detected passively using FlyingFish, thwarting attacks and locating mother ships.