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Unmanned air system (UAS) are being integrated at an increasing pace into the homeland security world. Israel aerospace industries (IAI) is doing big efforts to keep its unique position in the UAS market. We talked with Shaul Shahar, IAI corp. VP, General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group.

Panther UAV at the AU7SR 2013 Air Show. Photo: Nir Shmul - Coming Up
Panther UAV at the AU7SR 2013 Air Show. Photo: Nir Shmul – Coming Up

After many years of being “Super Power” in UAS is the growing competition from many countries endangering this status?

Mr. Shahar said that IAI continues to lead the international market in a wide variety of products and of course with new UAS ” I can mention the Heron to name one. We launch new products almost every year, this year we launched the Super Heron –IAI’s new heavy fuel UAS which introduces the latest technology and re-defines Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) UAS. We are constantly working on advanced capabilities to the benefit of our customers’ operational needs.”

The competition he said , has been there for many years but he sees it as a positive factor to the market.

In recent years IAI has focused its efforts in the UAS market on medium and large size UAS. This while there is a growing demand for mini UAS especially for HLS missions but not only . Are you going to reconsider this policy?

The IAI senior official said that the company puts a focus on the medium to large size UAS and as a results leads the market for those types of UAS.” In the smaller or mini UAS domain, IAI invests its resources in development of VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) innovative UAS every year, according to the demand and need for them in the market. IAI’s new small UAS like panther and mini panther and ghost provide a unique solution to the operational needs.”

AUS&R-2014  650x80

Unmanned Systems Event 2014 – Israel

Shaul Shahar
Shaul Shahar

The civil market for UAS is potentially big. The homeland security is considered a part of that market but it is still limited by regulations that limit the operation of UAS over populated areas. How do you cope with that?

The IAI official says that in his opinion the civil market will develop substantially when the various certification issues are resolved, and when the operational costs are reduced. “The issue of certification is in progress and we believe that the commercial market will develop mainly via the small UAS and Hovering UAVs –since their operating costs are lower and also due to the facilitation on certification on UAS below certain weights.”

With the above mentioned limitations on the civil use of UAS and the growing competition is the market , can these systems still be considered as one of IAI’s growth engines?

Mr. Shahar said that he is confident that the answer is positive . “The UAS market is characterized by constant growth and IAI sees itself as one of the key players in this area for the next decade and more.”

He added that IAI continues to invest substantial R&D resources in order to maintain its position as a significant leader in the current market in terms of innovation, technological edge, reliability and more, as well as leaders in the future civil market.