Algeria Operating New UAVs from UAE and China

Algeria’s military has greatly expanded its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fleet, and is now operating aircraft acquired from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as China.

Video footage seen in December revealed that Algeria is operating two types of UAVs built by the UAE’s Adcom Systems, including the Adcom Yabhon United 40, which is named locally as the Algeria 54.

Two of these were seen along with two Yabhon Flash-20 (Algeria 55) UAVs on the flightline at Polygone Central de l’Air à Hassi Bahbah ahead of a military demonstration for the Deputy Minister of National Defence and chief of staff of the National Army.

The Yabhon United 40s were armed with what appeared to be small diameter bombs while the Yabhon Flash-20s were not. Each UAV carried eight weapons.

In 2013 Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the Algerian Air Force was interested in acquiring the Yabhon United 40 to boost its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

The Yabhon United 40 features a double fore and aft main-wing configuration (as does the smaller Yabhon Flash-20). 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.

Jane’s notes that Adcom Systems appears to be inactive and may have sold its UAV rights to Algeria as the Algerian Ministry of Defence claims the Algeria 54 and Algeria 55 UAVs have been domestically built.

Algeria has greatly expanded its UAV fleet and recently revealed that it is operating a number of Chinese UAVs. Footage of CH-3 and CH-4 UAVs in Algerian service emerged in October during a visit to Ain Ouessara Air Base in the 1st Military Region by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah.

Although not fitted with weapons, the CH-4 seen was fitted with hardpoints. Algeria already operates Denel Seeker UAVs.

The CH-3 is manufactured by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). With a wingspan of 8 metres, the CH-3 follows a canard configuration. It has a 12 hour endurance and 180 km radius of action. It can be fitted with FT-5 guided bombs or AR-1 missiles.

The CH-4 was introduced in 2011 and has been in Chinese service since 2014. The CH-4 has a maximum take-off weight of 1 330 kg and a payload of 345 kg in addition to its electro-optical turret and synthetic aperture radar. The aircraft has a wingspan of 18 metres and length of 8.5 metres. It is powered by a 100 hp class piston engine giving a top speed of 235 km/h and cruise speed of 180 km/h with endurance of up to 40 hours.

This article was first published  defenceWeb on January 7, 2018.

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