A new version of the Elbit Systems/Bluebird Flying Elephant cargo-carrying unmanned air vehicle is set to carry out flight trials in the coming months.
The programme was initiated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to enable resupply missions to support frontline combat personnel. A new variant with increased power and payload capacity is being developed.
The 100HP engine used in the previous prototype has been upped to 300HP and the 500kg payload has been tripled to 1,500kg. The payload is carried on a shock-proof pallet system.
The Flying Elephant is a motorised parafoil with servo systems to retain its aerodynamic shape. A GPS system navigates the UAV.
BlueBird has adopted advanced para-wing technology to enable the UAV to achieve a speed of up to 45kt (83km/h), with the design to be capable of being flown in harsh weather.
The problem of resupplying Israeli combat units became acute during the second war in Lebanon, in 2006 and Elbit was selected to develop the system in 2011.