Designed in Israel, assembled in the US

It can normally be found on stickers on the back of consumer electronics or optical devices: “Designed in the US, assembled in Mexico.” The combinations vary but they have one aim – to tell the customer that the design was completed in an advanced country while the product was assembled in one with cheap labour.

If the US Army selects a mini unmanned air system (UAS) for its operations, it may carry a sticker saying: “Designed in Israel, assembled in the US.”

This is the new approach being taken by Israel’s largest UAS manufacturer to gaining a foothold in the US market.

It is not because labour there is cheap, but because Americans tend to “buy American”.

Stark Aerospace has recently unveiled its ArrowLite hand-launched, single-operator tactical UAS.

The ArrowLite was designed, developed and manufactured by Stark Aerospace, a subsidiary of IAI North America, the US subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, with support from the Program Manager for Tactical Operations Support, Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office.

The CTTSO awarded Stark a contract to develop the ArrowLite system for use by special operations and counter-terrorism small tactical units. A total of 13 systems, consisting of 39 air vehicles, associated ground support equipment and spares have been delivered to date.

According to Stark, the ArrowLite provides the tactical operator with a rapidly deployable lightweight aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. It weighs under 6.5lb (2.9kg) and can be quickly assembled and hand-launched in 60-90s.

The ArrowLite features a day/night thermal twin-axis mechanically gimballed stabilised payload with laser illuminator and data link.

The company says it can achieve flight distances of 2.7-8.1nm (5-15km) on the data link, can reach dash speeds up to 55kt (102km/h), can sustain flight for up to 2h 45min (from launch to land); and uses the lightweight, night-vision goggle-compatible, ruggedised operator control unit as the ground control station.

The ArrowLite system can survive rugged environmental conditions and can support a variety of missions, including insertion by military free-fall.

In the 1980s, the Americans bought the Israeli-made Pioneer UAS, but thereafter the US market was almost totally closed to Israeli manufacturers. “Designed in Israel, assembled in the US” may be the key to finally unlocking it.

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