AUVSI conference: payloads – not just platforms – attract attention

Israeli-made unmanned air systems (UAS) are going in two main but opposite paths – some are getting smaller and some larger.

These differently sized platforms need adequate payloads, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is working hard to supply them. Some are still under the veil of secrecy, but others are being exposed. The latter happened yesterday, at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference, held in Tel Aviv.

IAI unveiled a new version of its extra-lightweight MicroPOP stabilised payload. The new MicroPOP version, developed by IAI’s Tamam division, includes a new thermal imager based on large-format detector and a continuous optical zoom. In addition, an automatic video tracker (AVT) was integrated to enhance operational capabilities.

The MicroPOP is used for short-range observation missions. The system provides advanced, enhanced image capabilities for mini-UAS. With some designs of mini-UAS, such as the Ghost rotary and the Panther tilt rotor, being readied for operational use, the new smaller and more advanced payloads are needed. The shrinking effort continues to enable the installation of more sensors on even the smaller UAS. This is the demand of the different clients, small elite army units with big operational demands.

The demand for the IAI combat-proven payloads is big. IAI announced yesterday that it will supply the upgraded Flir zoom Multi-mission Optronic Stabilised Payload (MOSP) 3000 to three foreign customers. The contracts’ total worth is $20 million.

The MOSP 3000 is a multi-sensor electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) payload – an evolution of the MOSP concept. The system’s 14in (36cm) unit is designed primarily for UAS and aerostat platforms, while the 15in unit is designed primarily for helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, naval vessels and ground applications that require enhanced ruggedised structures.

The MOSP 3000′s open architecture design accommodates up to five sensors. The sensor package includes a continuous day colour zoom camera, a continuous optical zoom  thermal imaging cameras (640 x 480 detector format), a laser pointer and an eye-safe laser rangefinder. A laser designator and rangefinder (LDRF) may also be installed. A built-in AVT is integrated into all configurations.

The multi-sensor is key when big UAS are the carrying platform. Armed forces are no longer satisfied with one sensor. They want as many as the platform can carry.

This creates a problem that must be handled by the advanced ground stations. When such a variety of sensors “play” in harmony, clients need a system that will obtain information and use it to build a “big picture” that can be understood and used as fast as possible. Most of the targets hunted by manned and unmanned platforms are on the move, and in order to kill them the sensor-to-shooter time must be minimal.

The new payloads are built exactly for that: locate, identify and help the weapon to hit with precision.

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