A Facebook post on 7 October asserted that the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) is armed with new drones called "VTOL drones" announcing it as “Good News”. The Facebook page with more than 69,000 followers also adds in its post that the drones are capable of firing mortars off of the radar and that they are outcomes of an astonishing technology enabling them to sense the enemy’s direction and attack.
However, the post is rendered False due to a factual error in the content and the inaccuracy of the images used to support the claim.
As the conflict in the Tigray region persisted, the Ethiopian Defence Force had acknowledged the use of drones in the conflict, implying that the Air Force is equipped with military drones. There were also allegations that the ENDF is armed with Iranian drones.
What are VTOL drones referred to by the post?
VTOL stands for vertical take-off and landing. It describes aircraft and drones (unmanned aerial vehicles / UAVs) able to take off, hover, and land vertically, like a helicopter. The most common type of VTOL UAVs are multicopter drones.
A multicopter is a mechanically simple aerial vehicle whose motion is controlled by speeding or slowing multiple downward thrusting motor/propeller units.
VTOLs are used in mining, construction, oil and gas industries, surveying, mapping and security, and defense. In such ways, it helps by taking imagery of large areas, capturing geographical data, and monitoring through aerial surveillance. In general (drones) UAVs can be used for different purposes depending on their types.
Hence, in light of the provided explanation, it can be learned that the VTOL drone is not a military drone that can fire mortars off the radar as stated in the Facebook post, making the post’s assertion False.
On the other hand, HaqCheck looked into the three pictures attached to the post in support of the report. A reverse image search of the images shows that the images were first published in a news article by Xinhua on November 14, 2018. The news reported that Ethiopian forces attended drone piloting training in Beijing.
Moreover, it can be observed that the uniform the soldiers wore in the picture is the former official uniform of ENDF, replaced by the new uniform in 2019.
Therefore, due to the reasons stated above, the Facebook post’s report that the ENDF is armed with new VTOL drones that are capable of firing mortars off the radar is rated False.