An African army has signed a contract to purchase the fuel cell-powered Boomerang unmanned air vehicle manufactured by BlueBird in Israel.

The company declines to name the country concerned, but says that it previously operated a larger tactical UAV system before concluding that it was "costly and complicated to operate".

BlueBird president Ronen Nadir claims that the Boomerang is the only fuel cell-powered UAV capable of delivering an endurance of over 10h while also simultaneously carrying day and night payloads weighing a combined 1.3kg (2.8lb). "We developed the payloads that fit the airframe," he adds.

Boomerang UAV - BlueBird 
© BlueBird

Nadir says the aircraft's lightweight, compact fuel cell energy system enables the UAV to achieve "outstanding flight duration and altitude".

The latest version of the Boomerang is equipped with winglets, plus canards on its forward fuselage and can reach an altitude of 15,000ft (4,570m).

"The new version will be able to reach a 15h endurance if the hydrogen in the fuel cell system is stored in high pressure," Nadir says. Some users limit this pressure for safety considerations if the UAV is to be flown over civilian areas.

Negotiations are also under way with another country that wants to use the Boomerang. "We hope to sign the contract soon," says Nadir.

Source: Flight International