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Adcom UAVs in service in Algeria

Posted 2 December 2019 · Add Comment

Footage shown on Algerian national TV and posted by the Algerian Ministry of Defence on its official Facebook page has revealed that two Emirati-developed unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) are now in service with the Algerian Air Force. Jon Lake reports.

Algerian interest in the Adcom Systems Yabhon United 40 medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV was first reported during the 2013 Dubai Airshow.
Adcom was urgently seeking export orders. The company had started to produce unmanned drones from 2002, initially manufacturing target drones to meet Emirati requirements after the United States restricted the sale of unmanned vehicles to the UAE.
In 2013 the company had also purchased Belarus-based Indela, a producer of small unmanned systems – the Belar Ys-Ex.
At the Dubai show, Ali Al Dhaheri, the CEO and general designer for Adcom, said Algeria was interested in acquiring the Block 5 version of the Yabhon United 40 (also known as the Smart Eye 2) for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and light attack missions, tracking militants, insurgents and traffickers in the vast emptiness of the Sahara.
Two years later, Adcom was reporting Algerian interest in the smaller, unarmed Yabhon Flash-20 UAV.
Also back in 2013, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that it intended to procure the United 40 UAV, but this was only for evaluation, and the programme was delayed. The Russians finally commenced flight-tests of the United 40 at the Chkalov State Flight Test Centre in April 2016.
For a couple of years, little more was heard from Adcom Systems. The company’s website and social media accounts ceased all new activity and it did not exhibit at the 2017 Dubai Airshow.
Fast forward to the end of 2018, when Algerian TV footage revealed at least two armed Yabhon United 40s (apparently named locally as the El Jazair 54 or Algeria 54) and two smaller unarmed Yabhon Flash 20s (El Jazair 55/Algeria 55) in service with the Algerian Air Force.
The aircraft were seen on the flightline of the Polygone Central de l’Air at Hassi Bahbah in the Djelfa Province, which comes under the command of the 1st Military Region. They were deployed to Hassi Bahbah to participate in a military demonstration for the deputy minister of national defence and chief of staff of the national army.
Hassi Bahbah lies about 45km south of Ain Oussera, the home of the Algerian Air Force’s main reconnaissance wing, the 5e Escadre de Reconnasissance et de Guerre Electronique, which includes at least one UAV squadron – the 545e Escadron de Reconnaissance et de Guerre Electronique, equipped with Denel Dynamics Seeker II UAVs.
A visit to the base by chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, in October 2018 revealed that it also housed armed Chinese CH-3 and CH-4 UAVs. Both are members of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) Rainbow family.
A statement issued by the Algerian MoD on the Adcom UAVs noted: “These drones were built locally by engineers, technicians, and executives of the National People’s Army,” implying that Algeria had rights to manufacture the Yabhon United 40 and Yabhon Flash 20 as the Algeria 54 and the Algeria 55 under a licence from Adcom, or even that the entire Adcom operation has been transferred to Algeria.
First revealed in scale-model form in 2007, the Adcom Yabhon United 40 was named to commemorate the 40th year of the UAE, and has been renamed as the Algeria 54 in Algerian Air Force service.
The aircraft was Adcom’s largest design – a twin turboprop, 36 feet (11 metres) long with a wingspan of about 68 feet (21 metres) featuring Adcom’s distinctive tandem wing configuration and curved ‘S’-shaped fuselage. The aircraft is fitted with a retractable tricycle landing gear with twin wheels on each unit.
Up to 10 hardpoints can be fitted, with four on the front wings and six on the rear. These accommodate a payload of up to 1,050kg.
The aircraft was also fitted with a six-unit rotating dispenser mounted in the fuselage. The Algerian aircraft were armed with what looked like converted 120mm mortar rounds and Emirati Namrod air-to-surface missiles (ASMs).
 

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