Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has unveiled the country’s first domestically made unmanned aerial vehicle. The drone is designed to help the country fight drug traffic and will also be for sale in South America, costing a fraction of its popular Israeli equivalent.
The prototype drone, called the UAV-2 Gavilán “Hawk”, was designed by the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE) to monitor borders and hard-to-reach areas, like the Amazon rainforest, as well as for assisting police investigations.
It took the FAE five years of research to create the surveillance drone, but the result proved to be quite a bargain. According to Correa, Gavilán’s cost is about $500,000, while in 2007 Quito bought six Israeli UAVs of similar type for $20 million.
The Ecuadorian drone is made of carbon fiber and wood, and operates on a gasoline engine for up to seven hours, the official news agency Andes reported. It is capable of transmitting video and photos in real time and can land or take off automatically.
The UAV has already been tested in real missions, detecting a ship with a cargo of illegal drugs in the Pacific last year, which it had followed six hours before the vessel was detained, Correa said.
The president said he had enouraged the Ecuadorian Air Force to design and build a marketable drone, with the aim of exporting it other Latin American countries.
At least four more Gaviláns will be produced by Ecuador for domestic use this year, after which the FAE will switch to producing the drones for export.
Credit: RT News, http://rt.com/news; Photo caption: The president with a homemade drone.