|Role||Battlefield reconnaissance drone|
|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
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.
Following further evaluation and testing the Épervier entered service with the Belgian Army in 1977 and served until 1999.
Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1973-74
- 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)
- Related lists
- Taylor 1973, p. 506
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