Picador unmanned rotorcraft makes first flight

Tel Aviv
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Israel's Aeronautics Defense Systems has performed the first flight of its Picador unmanned rotorcraft.

Company president Avi Leumi says the debut flight lasted for 20min and enabled the development team to "acquire very important data". Further test flights will take place soon, he adds.

Being developed from the Dynali H2S helicopter by Aeronautics, which has acquired a major stake in the Belgian kit manufacturer, the Picador will be assembled by Aeronautics in Yavne in central Israel.

The Picador is 6.58m (21.6ft) long and has a rotor diameter of 7.22m. It will have a maximum take-off weight of 720kg (1,590lb) and carry a payload of up to 180kg. The unmanned helicopter will have an endurance of roughly 7h and a maximum speed of 110kt (204km/h).

Powered by a Subaru EJ 25 2,500cc engine, the rotorcraft will have an operational range of 108nm (200km) and a service ceiling of 12,000ft.

Leumi says the Picador is aimed mainly at navies as a replacement for manned helicopters that are used for intelligence applications, and for "over the horizon" use of long-range weapons.