Heavy fuel for UAS – the effort is stepped up

Commonality and safety. Safety and commonality. The order may change from country to country, but these are the considerations that drive the effort to adapt medium and large unmanned air systems (UAS) to operate on heavy fuel.

This is not new, but seems that the need has been boosted as the combat use of UAS has been expanded in Afghanistan.

It is only natural that Israel, a leading developer and manufacturer of all types of UAS, will spearhead these efforts.

And Israel Aerospace industries (IAI) plans to adapt its Heron UAS to fly with heavy fuel, according to Shaul Shahar, the manager of IAI’s MALAT UAS division. Shahar said that the test will be used to understand the full meaning of such a change: “The heavy fuel is an option mainly because clients want commonality in fuel for their land and air platforms, and of course because it’s more secure than [the] regular fuel used today.”

The use of heavy fuel has been evaluated for some time, first for smaller UAS like the company’s Searcher model, but it did not result in any operational decision. The planned test may determine the future of the adaptation on series production UAS or as an upgrade.

There is no doubt that some UAS will be powered by heavy fuel in the not-so-distant future. The armed forces want it. The UAS are now serving armies, air forces and navies. Commonality has never looked so obvious.

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