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In spite of the fact that many countries have begun developing UAS , the Israeli companies still manufacture some of the most advanced samples, some are still and will be for many years to come on the top secret list , guarded by the strict security measures in the country.
Until now these UAS mainly the mini and micro samples were considered the “tools” of the infantry and airforce
Israeli companies manufacture tactical UAS and strategic ones . In between they also develop UAS for special forces .
The current doctrine used by the Israeli defense forces (IDF) is that a ground force has to keep a continuous presence in the defined area with the air-force supporting from above when called in. This is changing and UAS play a major role.
Israel aerospace industries (IAI) offers a new doctrine and the tools to perform it .By developing the tools for such aerial control of an area the largest UAS manufacturer in Israel tries to teach the Israeli defense force
One system that is an indications to the new way of operational thinking is the Panther tilt rotor UAS . The Panther uses an innovative automatic flight control system that controls the transitions between the hovering takeoff phase to forward flight and vice versa before landing. The Panther takes off and lands automatically by a simple click of the operator console, thus eliminating the need for an external pilot.
According to IAI the Panther is powered by 3 ultra-quiet electrical motors. The Panther has a takeoff weight of 65 kg and an endurance of 6 hours. The Mini Panther is only 12 kgs when taking off and its endurance is 2 hours.
The second such tool is the IAI ETOP hovering aerial vehicle (HAV) a purely electrically-powered, tethered, airborne platform which can be used for observation, surveillance and other applications. The HAV can carry a payload of up to 20kg and operate up to a maximum altitude of 100 meters.
ETOP combines an electrically-powered aerial platform and a ground system which includes the means for automatic deployment, cables, and a mission management unit.
The third tool developed by IAI is the “Ghost” vertical takeoff uas that was partially unveiled recently. IAI is ready to reveal that it also developing the “Harlim” a solar powered uas that takes off when the fighting starts and is in the air for its duration.
The company is also developing the “Butterfly” micro UAS with flapping wings and the “Mosquito” super mini UAS that is under extensive development
With the mini and micro UAS becoming more popular, the company is looking for advanced propulsion systems for these systems with focus on batteries and Hybrid systems. This, as alternatives to the fuel cells that have begun entering the market in recent years.
IAI is considering fuel cells power packs as less suitable for its current and future UAS systems.
A senior IAI source said that the introduction of fuel cells power packs for UAS is “going in a slower pace than we thought “.
The source said that at this point, some Lithium-ION batteries are the near term preferred solution for small UAS “These batteries have been improved in recent years, and they are giving good results “the source said.
Hybrid power packs are being developed in some centers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Only recently, the USA air-force has asked the industry to develop a hybrid power pack that will weigh less than 20 pounds that will be capable of powering a UAS for mission durations of 4 hours.
A Hybrid power pack is based on an internal combustion engine that drives a small auxiliary power unit (APU). This APU recharges the batteries that are the source of power that drive the propeller.
The IAI “Ghost” has a MAX TOW 4 KG, endurance 25 minutes. The “Ghost” has a speed 35 knots, and an operational range 4m km. The mini-UAS is powered by electric motors and will have Automatic takeoff and landing
While all these development efforts continue, IAI is upgrading its mini uas systems. The company markets a new variant of its mini unmanned airl vehicle (UAV), the Bird-Eye 650.
The mini-UAV’s new propulsion system is powered by fuel cells, which allows for 6 hours of endurance compared with the 3 hours endurance of the existing version.
The system consists of 3 UAV platforms, EO&IR (electro-optic and infrared) payloads, a portable ground control system, a data link, and a power source and repair kit. The entire system is man-portable and can be deployed in the field by two people.
The portable ground control system is lightweight and allows for the automatic operation of the UAS and its payloads, and the data link allows for digital ground communication. The system uses a man-portable remote video terminal and a ground control element.
While the companies develop more mini and micro UAS systems some of these are entering service in the IDF’s infantry units.
So far , these small robots were almost out of limits in the anti terror units In Israel and around the world. This is changing especially with the development of systems like the IAI’s “Ghost” and The “Panther”