Evolution becomes revolution

In evolution there is a point where things change that have been obvious for many years. Until that moment evolution is a process running parallel to that it will eventually change.

This seems to be a nice theory – especially when the issue is a technological evolution.

However, when evolution at one time is actually a revolution, things are suddenly in a different light.

This somewhat philosophical introduction is not a theory waiting to be proven – the proof can be seen at each of the Israeli air force’s (IAF’s) bases.

The IAF is beginning a long cautious process that will replace manned aircraft with unmanned air systems (UAS).

There are two examples that can be used to prove that technological evolution has reached the point I mentioned above.

As I reported on Flightglobal, the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Panther tiltrotor UAS will be adapted for operation aboard navy ships.

The Panther uses an innovative automatic flight control system that controls the transition between hovering take-off and forward flight, and vice versa before landing. The Panther takes off and lands automatically by a simple click of the operator’s console, thus eliminating the need for an external pilot.

The type is powered by three ultra-quiet electrical motors, has a take-off weight of 65kg and an endurance of 6h.

The Israeli navy is currently using helicopters on its SAAR-5 missile ships. Sources said that the Panther and other UAS systems currently under development will eliminate the future use of helicopters on the navy’s ships.

I promised a second example of proof, and here it is: the IAF UAS are already performing some of the missions that were formerly performed exclusively by the service’s Beechcraft B-200 Super King Air aircraft.

The payloads carried by the IAF’s Heron-1 and Heron-TP UAS are capable of performing the medium and long range observation missions that until some years ago were performed exclusively by the B-200.

The IAF has been using some of its B-200s for long-range observation missions. These aircraft are equipped with very advanced electro-optical systems operated by a crew of air scouts seated in the cabin.

The carrying capability of the medium and large UAS operated by the IAF – and the quality of the sensors they carry – have shifted many missions to the UAS squadrons, and that trend will continue. The UAS have a longer endurance and their operation is cheaper.

So, evolution has become revolution – in spite of opposition from the pilots that are losing some missions.

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