IAI pulls plug on unmanned helicopter conversions

Tel Aviv
Source:
This story is sourced from Flight International
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Israel Aerospace Industries will not invest additional money in converting manned helicopters into unmanned platforms, a senior source says.

While the company's efforts to date had looked like a "reasonable" investment, tests made with some platforms have highlighted the shortcomings of such products.

"The main problem is the short endurance of such a platform. An unmanned rotorcraft should be designed as such from scratch to make it very efficient for the missions," the source says.

In recent years, IAI has been involved in an effort to assist India's Hindustan Aeronautics in using an existing helicopter for unmanned operations. However, the work was not fully budgeted by India, and IAI ceased its active involvement due to the lack of a customer.

While it intends to step back from such work on adapting manned platforms, IAI has recently revealed some details about its efforts in the small unmanned rotorcraft sector. One example is its developmental "Ghost" reconnaissance design, which has a maximum take-off weight of 4kg (8.8lb), a top speed of 35kt (65km/h) and an endurance of 25min.