The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) ground forces command has initiated an R&D programme aimed at developing “hovering platforms” with a payload capability of 80-100 kgs.
In an exclusive interview, Brig General Shahar Kadshai, head of the IDF’s technology branch, says that there is an operational need for hovering platforms using electrical motors to serve as “cargo vehicles” in the combat zone.
The senior officer said that the hovering platforms will be used for resupply missions in the battle zone and will be controlled by ground forces.
He was reluctant to be more specific about the programme but said that the hovering platform technology is now being developed by some of the local industries. One known effort mentioned by the senior officer is that of Israel Aerospace Industries, which recently unveiled its efforts in this type of flying platform by releasing partial details about a line of Hovering Air Vehicles (HAVs).
The first system in this line is the Electric Tethered Observation Platform (ETOP).
ETOP is a purely electric-powered, tethered airborne platform utilized for observation and other applications, which can be deployed from a static or moving ground vehicle or station. Under most circumstances, a HAV must carry an energy source, which can be extremely heavy, but the ETOP provides an innovative solution to this problem by simply leaving its energy source on the ground.
The platform is generated by electric-powered propellers, which can hover at a predetermined altitude above ground for long periods of time. Hovering time is limited only by the ground platform’s energy storage capability.
The ETOP can carry a payload of up to 20Kg at a maximum altitude of 100m and does not need an operator.
Israeli sources confirm that the ETOP is only one development direction and that hovering platforms have been declared an “operational requirement” by the IDF and that Israeli industries are responding
“There are some very interesting ideas and we will see a number of such systems in the next few years,” one of the sources says.