Israel's air force and navy are not evaluating the use of an unmanned rotorcraft from the latter's missile boats, and intend to continue operations with their jointly flown Eurocopter AS565 Atalef helicopters.
"These helicopters with the needed avionics changes fulfil all their missions," says a senior Israeli source, who adds that an unmanned system "is something that we may look at in the future, after it is mature".
Israel's AS565s are flown by two air force pilots, while a navy officer operates the platform's sensors and maintains contact with combat vessels and other aircraft. The current fleet remains in good condition, despite operating under harsh conditions, the source adds.
Aeronautics Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries are involved in unmanned rotorcraft programmes, with the former developing a system based on the Dynali H2S kit helicopter. This will have a maximum take-off weight of 700kg (1,540lb) and be offered for missions ranging from reconnaissance to light attack.
IAI is developing a naval rotary unmanned air vehicle (NRUAV) in co-operation with Hindustan Aeronautics. The system is based on the Indian company's Chetak helicopter, and IAI has already developed a flight-control system using a Bell 206.
The NRUAV is being touted for a proposed Indian navy programme for a system capable of operating automatically from aviation-capable ships and unprepared landing sites.