Algeria seeks Yabhon UAVs


The Algerian Air Force has reportedly expressed interest in acquiring the Adcom Systems Yabhon United 40 Block 5 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to boost its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

The UAV was exhibited at the recent Dubai Air Show last week. The North Africa Post quoted Adcom Systems chief executive officer Ali Dhadheri as saying the Algerian delegation to the Dubai Air Show 2013 had expressed interest in acquiring the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 to expand its fleet of UAVs.

Although the Yabhon United 40 Block 5 UAV is designed for collecting intelligence, it can also be armed with certain weapons suitable for the execution of specific missions. IHS Jane’s also quoted Dhadheri, who serves as the company’s general designer, as saying that the Algerian delegation had viewed the UAV in the static display area of the air show with a view to procuring it.

The Yabhon United 40 Block 5 features a double fore and aft main-wing configuration. The twin-turbo-prop platform has a 17.53 m wing-span, is 11.3 m long and stands 4.38 m tall. It has a cruise speed of 120-200 kilometres per hour, an endurance of over 100 hours and a service ceiling of 26 000 ft.

Its payload includes 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.

According to IHS Janes, the two Yabhon United 40 Block 5 UAVs displayed at the show (built for unspecified customers) were shown fitted with four Adcom Systems Namrod stand-off missiles – two under each wing – and two torpedoes on the centre-line hard-points, which can be equipped with a company-made wing-kit for enhanced stand-off capabilities.

Algeria is reportedly seeking unmanned aerial defence platforms to track militants, arms and drug traffickers in its vast southern desert regions.

Algeria, which currently operates Seeker UAVs manufactured by South African defence specialists Denel Dynamics, is also interested in the Predator and Reaper UAVs manufactured by US-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

Adcom unveiled a ten ton jet or turboprop powered version of the Yabhon at the Dubai Airshow, which is set to rival the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk high altitude long endurance UAV. The new Global Yabhon will be ready for delivery in six months’ time. The new aircraft can carry up to 18 weapons on wing and fuselage stations. Adcom also displayed a United 40 Navy version for maritime use, able to carry sonobuoys and torpedoes.

Algeria has increased its defence budget for 2014 and is actively seeking new tankers, transports, helicopters and ISR aircraft. Earlier this year Algeria evaluated the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport and Airbus A330 MRTT tanker with an eye to replacing ageing Il-78 Midas tankers and acquiring a new transport aircraft. Algeria asked the two respective companies to conduct demonstrations, indicating the seriousness of these potential contracts.

The country is growing its defence spending by 6% through 2017, according to some estimates, as it modernises and re-equips to meet the challenge of insecurity and terrorism in the region.