The ‘mule’ is tough but he needs help

One thing is sure, the vision and determination of one man and the skills of the people he has gathered around him may be the beginning of a revolution.


The AirMule ducted fan unmanned platform is a private initiative but in recent days, for the first time, a source in a key position has said that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) is following the project with interest.


That may sound a very faint saying, but when added to other such indications, the picture is of growing interest in the AirMule, or rather the technology it involves.


It is not that the IAF will tomorrow allocate funds needed to move to the next phase of the project, but the sensitive ear can undoubtedly hear a different music, even if it is at a very low volume.


The technology is not other than revolutionary, and especially in aerospace such revolutions take time to convince that they are based on solid foundations.


But the low-volume “music” that can be understood as a turning point in attitude stems mainly from need – the Israeli defence forces need an unmanned platform for Medivac and re-supply missions to the front line of battle.


Urban Aeronautics has started building a second prototype of its AirMule ducted fan unmanned platform. This prototype will be powered by the Arriel -2 engine.


Urban Aeronautics president Dr Rafi Yoeli said that the second prototype is being built in parallel to continued improvements on the first one.


One of the major modifications introduced into that prototype is a double hydraulic system.


Yoeli revealed that the second prototype will be powered by an Arriel -2 940 SHP engine.


This will allow a maximum takeoff weight of 3,100lb (1,407kg), an endurance of five hours and a maximum altitude of 12,000ft.


The Israeli company is still looking for more financing to enable the necessary phases in the programme.


The second prototype is scheduled to begin test flights at the end of this year, but the exact date depends on financing.


The “tail wind” in the form of favourable expressions is not enough though. Someone in the Israeli defence establishment should officially think “out of the box” and help the initiative, not by talking but with funds.


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