Friday, February 15, 2013
An Ethiopian military source has told Sudan Tribune that the country
has built the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone which could
be used for multiple purposes.
After undergoing testing, the locally made drones, have demonstrated
their capability of performing a number of militarily and civilian
applications, according to the source.
Speaking on condition of anonymity from the country's air force base
in Debrezeit town, a military official told Sudan Tribune that the
drones are equipped with onboard sensors, cameras and GPS to carry out
cost-effective monitoring activities even across difficult landscapes
like the highlands of Ethiopia.
Besides serving in a number of military missions - such as in
monitoring border security - the UAVs will also be deployed to perform
geophysical surveys, assist forest protection and monitor forest fires
or other natural disasters.
The drones have already made test flights performing a geophysical
survey of Ethiopia's controversial grand renaissance dam, a massive
hydro-power plant project the country is constructing on the Blue Nile
River near to the Sudanese border.
In recent years, many African countries have shown growing interest
in using drones as a cost-effective way to control huge infrastructure
facilities, as well as areas rich in natural resources such as oil, mine
and gas sites.
In 2011 Ethiopia signed an agreement with Israeli manufacturer BlueBird Aero Systems to purchase drones.
Binyam Tekle, a lecturer and researcher at a government university,
says the development of indigenous drones is a great achievement for
Ethiopia and will help strengthen the national army.
Due to Ethiopia's long and fragile borders with Eritrea, Somalia,
Kenya, Sudan and more recently South Sudan, he said it is timely for the
country to use UAVs to monitor these shared and often tense and porous
"With Eritrea-backed rebels and Somalia's al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab
terrorists repeatedly posing threats to national security, using UAVs
will be crucial for Ethiopia to avert planned attacks," he told Sudan
Ethiopia is a key regional security partner to the United States
particularly in the war on terror due to its proximity to Yemen and
In 2011, the Obama administration launched a
drone base in Ethiopia for counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of
Africa, particularly to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia. Earlier
this month, it was revealed that the US has had a drone base in Saudi
Arabia, with its existence kept secret by the US media in collusion with
the Obama administration.
In recent years, Ethiopia has made tremendous achievements in the
defence sector by managing to manufacture its own military equipment and
On Thursday, Ethiopia marked its first ever Defence Force Day under
the theme "Our constitutional loyalty and public nature would be
A defence exhibition was staged in the heart of the capital, Addis
Ababa, demonstrating the level of progress the nation has made.
Light and heavy modern weapons, as well as different vehicles
manufactured by the army-run automotive industry were also displayed at
Government officials said that Ethiopia has built a defence force capable of breaking any internal or external enemy.
The Horn of Africa nation has one of the strongest army and air
forces on the continent and often contributes troops to United Nations
peace keeping missions.
Ethiopia spends around 2.4% of its GDP on the military.