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In recent months there’s been a growing interest in the AirMule UAV developed by Israeli company Urban Aeronautics. The need for such a system is now recognized by many armed forces and delegations, some of whom are expected to visit Israel this year for evaluations.
In 2011 a NATO report stated that Urban Aeronautics AirMule ducted fan unmanned craft is currently the only solution for unmanned evacuation of wounded soldiers from combat zones. This report documents the findings of Task Group HFM-184 which investigated the possibility and acceptability of casualty evacuation using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
“It must be noted that of all the VTOL UAVs described in this report, only one – the Israeli Urban Aeronautics “Air Mule” has been specifically designed for logistics and medical missions (i.e., resupply and MEDEVAC). All other VTOL UAVs are being, or have been, developed for ISTAR, utility, or cargo delivery missions. “
The report says that battlefields such as Afghanistan have increased the threat to aircraft crews and platforms conducting manned MEDEVAC and CASEVAC operations. “This increased threat places additional lives at risk—not only are the casualties at risk, but so are the evacuation crews. Combat operations may be conducted in a variety of environments which are often characterized by rugged terrain and obstacles to ground vehicle transportation. Some missions can be conducted up to hundreds of kilometers from forward operating bases (FOB) and medical care facilities with the only medical support available on scene being unit medics or fellow soldiers”
The reports says that moving an individual only a few hundred yards can take an hour or more, as has clearly been shown by Israeli experience in the Lebanon War.