No Israeli manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is revealing what it is doing in the design labs. National security and competition have combined to build a very high, thick wall that is not allowing even a glimpse at what is cooking in these labs.
But by analysing the needs of the Israeli defense forces, and the proven capabilities of Israeli manufacturers like Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), ELBIT Systems and Aeronautics, one can get a partial idea of things to come.
It can be said with a great degree of confidence that many more tasks of manned aerial platforms will be taken over by unmanned ones. Saying that, the emphasis must be on many more.
The process is gradual, and its pace is determined by the trust of the users in the new technology.
Right now the imminent step is a combination of airborne early warning (AEW) or Sigint manned platforms with a number of UAS. This is currently being studied by the manufacturers.
IAI is offering a line of mission aircraft on different platforms. The G550 was selected by the Israeli airforce and the air force of Singapore for this mission.
The need for many sensors operating simultaneously in a wide area brought IAI to evaluate a complete system that will consist of the sensors carried by the manned platform that will act as shepherd to a number of UAS carrying different sensors. Such a combination will allow the manned system to get more data for the onboard "fusion" process.
It is understood that the planned combination will increase the "footprint" of the sensors also in "difficult" areas where the topography disrupts the sensors efficiency.
IAI confirms that such an evaluation is being performed but is reluctant to be specific about the types of UAS and sensors that are used.
But this is an interim phase based more on psychological reasons than on operational ones.
As the UAS get bigger and heavier, they would undoubtedly take the place of many manned platforms.