MBLE Épervier

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Royal Military Museum Brussels 2007 187.JPG
Role Battlefield reconnaissance drone
National origin Belgium
Manufacturer Manufacture Belge De Lampes Et De Matériel Electronique
Primary user Belgian Army

The MBLE Épervier (English: Sparrowhawk) was a 1970s Belgian battlefield reconnaissance system which included an X-5 air vehicle, a launcher and a drone control centre. It served with the Belgian Army until 1999.

Design and development[edit]

Originally the Épervier system was designed to meet a NATO requirement and in July 1969 the Belgian Government decided to fund the development programme, a cooperation contract with Manufacture Belge De Lampes Et De Matériel Electronique (MBLE)(fr, nl) was signed in early 1971. Early prototypes of the drone (designated X-1 to X-4) were flown to prove the concept and at the end of the 1972 in to 1973 the system underwent an operational evaluation, it proved an ability to photograph a target up to 70 km (43 miles) away in either guided or programmed mode.

The X-5 air vehicle is an unmanned monoplane drone powered by a Lucas TJ 125 turbojet, and built under contract by Fairey SA. It has a truncated delta wing with endplate fins and a central fin. The X-5 can carry 70mm day or night cameras and infra-red line-scanning equipment which can transmit real-time data.

The launcher is a short orientable ramp, the drone is recovered by parachute. The Drone Control Centre has all the equipment to for guiding and tracking the air vehicle. The system also has a mobile photographic processing and interpretation unit.

Operational history[edit]

Following further evaluation and testing the Épervier entered service with the Belgian Army in 1977 and served until 1999.



Specifications (X-5)[edit]

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1973-74[1]

General characteristics

  • Length: 2.38 m (7 ft 9¾ in)
  • Wingspan: 1.72 m (5 ft 7¾ in)
  • Height: 0.92 m (3 ft 0¼¼ in)
  • Gross weight: 142 kg (313 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lucas TJ 125 turbojet, 0.5 kN (114 lbf) thrust


  • Cruising speed: 500 km/h (312 mph)
  • Endurance: 0 hours  25+ min
  • Service ceiling: 1830 m (6000 ft)

See also[edit]

Related lists



  1. ^ Taylor 1973, p. 506


  • Taylor, ed. (1973). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1973-74. London, United Kingdom: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-354-00117-5.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)