Is Ethiopia Flying Iranian-Made Armed Drones?

August 17, 2021

Weapon Program: 

  • Military


Wim Zwijnenburg



Since the outbreak of the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region, there have been reports on the possible use of drones by the ENDF, or the Ethiopian National Defence Force. Opponents of the government claimed that the Ethiopian military operated armed drones from an airbase in neighbouring Eritrea, a claim which Bellingcat addressed in a previous article in 2020.

For some time, the only firm open source evidence of drone use by the Ethiopian government has been of small unarmed Chinese commercial drones operated by the country’s police, which were subsequently used by the military.

As the conflict dragged on, Ethiopian military figures broadly acknowledged some use of drones. “Our air force is equipped with modern drones. We have our own technicians and controllers who run and fly them. We don’t need others to help us out with this in our fight against the extremists. We’re pretty self-reliant”, remarked Major General Yilma Merdasa of the Ethiopian Air Force in an interview to local media last November.

But Maj. Gen. Merdasa’s interview didn’t answer one particularly important question — who built Ethiopia’s fleet of drones?


Read the rest of the investigation at Bellingcat.