The Nigerian military appears to have taken delivery of Yabhon Flash-20 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the United Arab Emirates, several years after they were reportedly ordered.
The Nigerian Air Force on 8 February released a series of images of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, visiting Air Task Force Headquarters in Maiduguri and the 171 Nigerian Air Force Detachment in Monguno to assess the conduct of counter-insurgency operations as well as inspect facilities and ongoing projects. In one of these photos the tail of a new UAV can be seen.
The aircraft appears to be a Yabhon Flash-20. In 2016, Nigerian media reported that Nigeria was acquiring Adcom Systems Yabhon Flash-20 unmanned aerial vehicles from the United Arab Emirates. Reports at the time suggested the Yabhon Flash-20s would replace the CH-3 armed UAVs acquired from China. One crashed in January 2015 and the type has apparently been problematic in Nigerian service. They have been armed with AR-1 missiles, and used to strike Boko Haram positions.
The Yabhon Flash-20 is the smallest of Adcom Systems’ UAVs at about 1.5 tonnes maximum take-off weight. It can fly for 60-70 hours and carries a gimbaled camera platform.
The type has been observed in Algeria, where it is called the Algeria 55. In early 2019, the Algerian military revealed it was operating two types of UAVs built by Adcom Systems, including the Adcom Yabhon United 40, which is named locally as the Algeria 54. Both have similar configurations, but differ in size.
Nigeria, meanwhile, late last year said it would be receiving two Wing Loong II, four CH-4 and two CH-3 aircraft from China, which would help enhance the NAF’s intelligence gathering for air operations. Four of the aircraft will be deployed in Gusau, two in Gombe and the remaining two at Operation Lafiya Dole Headquarters in Maiduguri. Amao this week said the eight new UAVs were still expected. He noted that these additional new aircraft would add considerable value to operations within the North East and other operational theatres.