The most common use of unmanned air systems (UAS) is observation. To look far, day and night, and see the details that are needed to "incriminate" a target so that a weapons system can be directed towards it.
The Israeli payload manufacturers are not allowed to boast about all their achievements, but from time to time they get permission to highlight some of them, and these are really impressive.
In a recent visit to ELOP, the electro-optics division of Elbit Systems, I learned that variants of a new, very advanced optical system developed by the division will give the Israeli company's payloads for UAS unprecedented night capabilities.
The Long View CR system provides a combination of target acquisition and observation capabilities.
According to Adi Dar, general manager of ELOP, the extremely lightweight and cost-effective system combines a very long-range continuous optical zoom FLIR, long-range day cameras, an integral eye safe laser range finder, GPS and a magnetic compass - all in one, compact configuration.
Dar added that the system provides "phenomenal" results when operated at night. "The images can be compared to those of digital black and white TV."
The basic system was designed for ground operations, but Dar confirmed that variants "using the same FLIR breakthrough" technology will be fitted to the different UAS made by Elbit Systems and to others.
The new breed of payloads will enable the UAS to take a much more effective part in any military operation, and around the clock.
Judging by the performance of other optical systems made by ELOP, I can say that for the enemy there is nowhere to hide, day and night.
This is true for systems carried by a soldier that look like a beefed-up binocular, through the UAS payloads and up to barrel-sized systems that are carried by the Israeli Air Force's reconnaissance aircraft.