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The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) operated by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) are flying around the clock, and this requires more operational flexibility.
From mini UAV like the Skylark operated by the ground forces through the Heron and Hermes-450 and up to the huge Heron TP, the UAV squadrons have been operating “around the clock”, as an industry source involved in the logistics said.
It is now obvious that in any future combat operation that Israel will be involved in, the UAV’s will take a major part. The missions are diversified and some are classified but UAV’s performed a huge number of missions of different types.
The IAF has realized some time ago that the increasing use of UAV’s will demand top availability, and that can be achieved only by taking measures across the board.
This is one reason why the IAF has been developing “health management” systems for UAV’s.
The work is being done in the IAF’s unit 108 which is the “electronic unit” of the force. The unit deals with electronics but it is actually the heart and the nerves of all the systems the IAF operates – manned , unmanned and on the ground.
The fact that 50 % of operational flight hours of the IAF are being performed by UAVs (in combat the percentage is even higher) brought about the decision to find a way of predicting malfunctions in the different types of UAV’s.
Health management systems are used now mainly on commercial aircraft. These are on-board sensors that are installed to measure parameters related to the health of an aircraft.
The IAF lost a number of UAV’s in recent years. In most cases mechanical failure was the reason.
As the UAV’s become bigger and carry a variety of payloads each crash signifies the loss of a large sum of money.
The new health systems that are being developed now specifically for UAV’s are designed to give an advanced warning about a problem that, in most cases, is developing from a minor one to a critical one that causes the loss of a UAV.