x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE's unmanned drone passes test flight

UAE-made Yabhon United 40 drones are now ready to be sold to the world.

The Yabhon United 40 aircraft is exhibited at the Idex festival in the capital last month. The UAE-made unmanned drone can cruise at speeds of up to 220kph and will cost up to $30 million. Delores Johnson / The National
The Yabhon United 40 aircraft is exhibited at the Idex festival in the capital last month. The UAE-made unmanned drone can cruise at speeds of up to 220kph and will cost up to $30 million. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // The first unmanned aerial vehicle designed and made in the UAE has passed its test flight.

Ali Al Dhaheri, designer of the Yabhon United 40 - named in honour of our 40 years of union - said test flights in Abu Dhabi last week were successful and the aircraft, known as a UAV, was ready for production.

It can carry up to 10 air-to-ground missiles with a delivery range of 60 kilometres each and fly for up to 120 hours.

"This UAV was presented at Idex 2013 [International Defence Exhibition] and as soon as we received approval from the aviation authorities, we conducted the tests," said Mr Al Dhaheri, the chief designer and chairman of Adcom Systems. "The tests have proved all the capabilities the UAV was designed for."

A drone will cost between US$20 million (Dh73.5m) and $30m.

"We are expecting sales of $500m this year and about $41.5 billion over the next few years for this aircraft," Mr Al Dhaheri said.

The planes can cruise at speeds of between 75 and 220kph, fly to 7,010 metres and are powered by a 115-horsepower main engine and an 80hp electric engine.

The United 40 is designed for strategic missions that include combat and battle damage assessment, intelligence preparation of a battlefield, special and reconnaissance operations, humanitarian aid, border surveillance and communications relay.

During last month's Idex event, Mr Al Dhaheri said that Adcom potentially had contracts with seven countries, from the Arabian Gulf and Europe.

"Our manufacturing industries are advanced - Israel and the US are the only countries who can manufacture similar drones," he said.

Over the past 24 years, Abu Dhabi-based Adcom has progressed from building missiles to developing strategic radars. It now also creates advanced communication systems.

amustafa@thenational.ae