Israel Aircraft Industries' (IAI) Malat division has unveiled its new Bird Eye 400 mini unmanned air vehicle, which lands on its back to avoid damaging its optical payload (see top picture). The air vehicle has a take-off weight of 4kg (8.8lb), including its gimballed day sensor, which features a vertical 180° scan capability.
The dimensions of the payload and an operational requirement to locate it in the lower part of the UAV's fuselage have required a novel method of recovery. A high landing gear was ruled out because it would have increased the UAV's optical signature, so Malat opted to equip the platform with a flap system that lowers its nose into a deep stall before landing on its back. Two elastic "shock absorbers" on the upper part of the UAV hit the ground first and reduce its impact, while its electric motor drives a hinged propeller, which also helps to avoid damage.
Development of the Bird Eye 400 has now been completed, says Malat. "It performed landings on its back in different types of terrain and the payload was not damaged," says marketing manager Jack Shamla. A night sensor for the UAV is expected to be declared operational in the near future. Four soldiers can carry the full Bird Eye 400 system in backpacks.
ARIE EGOZI/TEL AVIV
Source: Flight International