New unmanned tools for maritime combat

The Israeli navy will use more unmanned platforms in its missions.

It already operates an unmanned boat and is planning the deployment of small unmanned air systems (UAS) aboard patrol craft.

In a rare interview, Col Sassi Hudeda, head of the navy’s weapons systems department, said the effort to develop small vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned systems is being made with Israeli industry and the university of Beer Sheva.

“We want to use fully autonomous small VTOL unmanned systems that will be capable of taking off and landing from Super Dvora class patrol boats.”

The Super Dvora is a fast patrol boat that can reach a speed of 38kt (70km/h) and has a range of 700nm (1,295km).

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which is manufacturing the Super Dvora, has been involved in the development of unmanned full-sized-, half-sized- and mini-sized VTOL systems. Other Israeli companies are involved in a similar effort. Steadicopter, which is developing a small rotary UAS, showed its Black Eagle 50 at the AUVSI exhibition in Tel Aviv last month.

Steadicopter director Rami Hadar was not ready to say anything about potential military applications of the system, which has a 35kg (77lb) maximum take-off weight and 3hr endurance capability.

Other companies are also working on such systems, but refuse to release details.

The Israeli effort is to enable all unmanned platforms in the air and the sea in a given area to “talk” to each other to create the “big” intelligence picture and allow “complex fighting scenarios”.

It seems that budget restraints – the Israeli navy is not the first in the queue to get what is available – will slow the development effort, but they will result, not in the far future, in these unmanned platforms that will change the way operations are performed on the high seas.

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