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Mauritania announces UAV acquisition and displays new Chinese equipment

A Yitian-L short-range air-defence system is seen next to four VN21s armed with anti-tank missile launchers and WMA301s. (Agence Mauritanienne d'Information (AMI))

The Mauritanian Air Force now has long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), it was announced on 10 June when President Mohamed Ould Sheikh al-Ghazouani visited a military base to inspect new equipment that has been delivered to the Mauritanian National Armed Forces.

A statement released by the president's office said the equipment included “highly effective reconnaissance and attack drones capable of covering the entire national territory, including territorial waters, around the clock”.

Mauritanian television showed footage of the president being briefed on the new UAVs, with a visual presentation saying the aircraft have an operational radius of 2,000 km, an endurance of 36 h, and can carry six guided missiles with a range of 14 km.

The presentation included photographs and a video showing large UAVs with a twin-tail pusher-propellor configuration. However, Mauritanian Air Force markings appeared to have been superimposed on the aircraft in the photographs and were not seen in the footage of the UAVs at an airfield that did not appear to be in Mauritania.

The equipment the president inspected at the base was not identified in the media coverage of the event but included 20 WMA301 fire-support vehicles armed with 105 mm guns and eight Yitian-L short-range air-defence systems, both of which are promoted by the Chinese company, Norinco.

The Yitian-L is mounted on a Dongfeng Mengshi tactical vehicle and has four TY-90 missiles, making it lighter than the original Yitian and newer Yitian II, both of which are mounted on armoured personnel carriers and have eight missiles.

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