Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Panther tiltrotor unmanned air system is performing automatic take-off and landing tests, and in early 2012 will demonstrate its capabilities to potential customers.

An IAI source said the company's development team has managed to solve problems with the transition between hovering and normal flight, and that "the prototypes have so far accumulated hundreds of flight hours".

 Panther UAV air - IAI

© Israel Aerospace Industries

The Panther uses an innovative automatic flight control system that controls the transition between the hovering take-off phase to forward flight - and vice versa - before landing. The aircraft takes off and lands automatically upon receiving a command the operator console, eliminating the need for an external pilot.

With a maximum take-off weight of 65kg (143lb) and an endurance of 6h, the Panther is powered by three ultra-quiet electric motors.

IAI sources added that progress to date with the Panther has helped during the development of a reduced-scale version. The Mini Panther weighs 12kg and has an endurance of 2h.

IAI meanwhile is co-operating with companies in the development of more reliable fuel cells, which will increase the flight time of both versions.

Get more Israeli defence industry coverage on Arie Egozi's Ariel View blog

Source: Flight International