VTOL UAS – Precision tools of special forces

The latest trend in unmanned air systems (UAS) for special forces is lightweight craft with vertical take-off and landing capabilities.

Whatever their mission, special forces want an independent, covert capability to see over hills and inside buildings.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been developing a few such systems in recent years. Only two of the new breed of UAS have been revealed, but they clearly illustrate the latest trend.

The first is the Mini Panther tiltrotor UAS. An innovative automatic flight-control system handles the aircraft’s transition from the hovering take-off phase to forward flight, and vice versa before landing. The Mini Panther is made to take off and land automatically by a simple click on the operator’s console, removing the need for an external pilot. The Panther is powered by three ultra-quiet electric motors.

The Mini Panther’s take-off weight is only 12kg and it can fly for two hours.

IAI’s second new system is the Ghost, a double-rotor VTOL craft also designed for covert missions by special forces. The Ghost weighs 4kg, has a flight endurance of 30 minutes and can carry a 500g payload.

The unveiling of these two systems suggests others are being developed and IAI will reveal more in the near future. Some will no doubt remain the “private tool” of Israeli elite units.

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