Ethiopian army to get BlueBird UAVs

Tel Aviv
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Israeli manufacturer BlueBird has won a contract to supply unmanned air vehicles to the Ethiopian army.

The company declines to reveal details about the order, but sources say it includes upgraded versions of the Boomerang and SpyLite systems, plus the establishment of local maintenance facilities and technology transfer.

BlueBird claims that its fuel cell-powered Boomerang can provide an endurance of over 10h while carrying day and night sensor payloads weighing up to a combined 1.3kg (2.8lb). However, an enhanced version with canards on its forward fuselage could achieve a flight time of 15h and reach an altitude of 15,000ft (4,570m), it adds.

The company's smaller SpyLite mini UAV is designed for "over-the-hill" surveillance applications.

Israeli sources say African nations are becoming big potential customers for UAVs, due to their need to monitor long borders and to control areas with natural resources such as oil.

BlueBird's success follows that of fellow Israeli firm Aeronautics Defence Systems, which recently won a deal to supply Orbiter air vehicles to Uganda.