Mississippi-based Stark Aerospace (booth 951) is making a new push in the North American market for unmanned air systems after a relatively quiet few years.
The American subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries is also shifting direction from its previous emphasis on the large UAS segment. The focus has been redirected to other markets in the industry, such as small UAS, unmanned ground vehicles and sensor payloads.
“The US market nowadays is not like was two to three years ago, [based] on the amount of money that has been spent there,” says Shaul Shahar, vice-president and general manager of IAI's military aircraft division. “The big programmes we had there had come to a conclusion and the end of deliveries.”
Stark Aerospace is exhibiting a range of new products at its booth, including a new unmanned ground vehicle developed with partner Qinetiq North America, the Stark-designed and built Arrowlite small UAS and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft such as the Mini-Panther for urban environments and the unshrouded, tandem rotor Ghost for open areas.
The goal is to offer the new products across all of the market sectors for unmanned systems, including military, law enforcement and commercial applications.
The offerings reveal how much IAI’s strategy in the market has evolved over the last 10 years. Stark was formed originally to introduce IAI’s large platforms, including the Heron and the Heron TP, to the lucrative US defence market.
But IAI never won a contract for a program of record in the US military for a large UAS, despite several attempts to defeat US-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.
“How can [General Atomics] be so successful to be the one sole source for the Reaper and the Predator in the United States and no other Tier 1 company is likely to compete?” Shahar asks. “There is a full dominance in the US market by General Atomics in the last five to seven years.
"Unfortunately, unless it’s a niche requirement we have a problem to see how we can enter into the US with our Heron and Heron TP.”