The fact that one can order a micro unmanned air system (UAS) with fixed wings or in the shape of a quadcopter is a problem both for the Israeli air force and the Israeli manufacturers of such systems.
While the air force has to find ways to protect Israeli airspace from micro and mini UAS being used by terrorist organisations, Israeli manufacturers are seeing a large part of their market disappear.
This is why Israeli micro and mini UAS manufacturers have asked the Ministry of Defence to ease export restrictions on these aircraft.
The manufacturers claim that the current regulations on the export process for micro and mini UAS are causing them “big losses”. In a recent meeting, they said that while the restrictions on UAS with larger carrying potential and longer endurance make sense, those applied to their smallest systems are “not logical”.
The manufacturers told Flightglobal that the current regulations prevent them from even offering their systems to some potential customers.
A Ministry of Defence source said that the problem will be evaluated to find a way to ease exports while preventing the aircraft from falling into “hostile hands”.
In recent years, armed groups in Lebanon have made a number of attempts to use UAS, mostly of Iranian origin to penetrate Israeli airspace. The Israeli air force scrambled fighters to shoot them down.
In recent weeks, Hamas in Gaza has attempted to use small commercial quadcopters.
“The… organisations that are in a war with Israel have been trying to exploit the potential of UAS in their aggressive operations and that forces us to be extra cautious when we approve the export of Israeli UAS of any size and weight,” the ministry source said.
So the situation has changed. Once aerial platforms that were transferred only as part of government-to-government deals are now available on the open market, just like books or cameras.
The fact that anybody can order a micro UAS online and use it for purposes other than impressing friends in the park is worrying the defence establishment, as well as the manufacturers.