Ethiopian military drones face major obstacles in mountains of Tigray

Satellite photograph of Semara, Afar, Airport in August 2021 showing Mohajer-6 drones

The network is busy now, try again later! spoken by that all too familiar female voice to Ethiopian cell phone users may also be heard by Ethiopian armed forces military drone operators trying to use imported military drones in the mountainous terrain of Tigray. Multiple reviews of drone images taken by satellite and analysis by world renowned weapons experts seems to consistently point to few possible drone models being used. The most common is Iran’s Mohajer-6.

Although these drones can carry weapons they do not have the sophisticated live satellite link guidance of super power countries drones. Instead they are limited to line of sight flying no more than about 100 miles from the ground control station. This may also account why the Tigray Defense Force is keeping a margin of safety in Amhara and Afar distant from the border of Tigray. Mountains, bad weather, etc. can block the signal. Those with experience operating them say it is not uncommon to frequently lose signals. They can be set to attack on a set GPS course but it will not be very accurate without live visual confirmation which requires line of sight constant communication.

Exact location of targets is difficult other than by visual recognition. How sophisticated that is would depend on how much “extras” were added to the purchase. On board Global Positioning Systems can give location of the drone but not the target. Many countries are now employing GPS blocking systems which can easily block those of line of sight drones.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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