VTOL UAV could aid fight against pirates

Tel Aviv
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Israeli unmanned air systems maker Innocon has unveiled a fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing concept designed for shipboard operations, to help protect shipping from pirates.

Powered by a four-stroke engine, the 1.5m (4.9ft)-long unmanned air vehicle has a 1m wingspan and a maximum take-off weight of 30kg (66lb). Endurance is 4h.

Innocon chief executive Michael Armon says the UAV, which is undergoing flight-testing and is expected to achieve full capability within months, will be capable of carrying a 5kg payload, probably the day/night optical T-Stamp unit made by Controp in Israel. "This payload and others of this category allow excellent video tracking of targets in day and night conditions," Armon says.

© Innocon/Tim Bicheno-Brown

The aircraft will be equipped with Innocon's Naviator flight management system, enabling fully autonomous operation from take-off until landing. "The system will be operated by a simple laptop from the ship's bridge," says Armon. The system price is expected to be about $300,000.

"Our idea is to put some of these special UAV systems on cargo ships so that they can give an early warning about a planned pirate attack," he says.

The as-yet unnamed system is based on a 10-year-old design by a US inventor who is a partner in the programme, says Armon.