The Israeli military has identified an operational requirement for an unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) platform that will be used to perform resupply and medical evacuation tasks from the front line.
Efforts are now being made to allocate a budget for the requirement in the services' new multi-year acquisition plan and the defence ministry will participate in the funding of the proposed solution.
Israeli VTOL aircraft developer Urban Aeronautics' AirMule ducted fan unmanned air system is the only candidate for the missions, with the company's prototype having recently completed another series of test flights. These were focused on its automatic take-off and landing system and precision hovering feature, sources said.
© Urban Aeronautics
The need is based on the lessons learned from the second Lebanon war, where Israeli combat units encountered difficulties in receiving supplies from helicopters. The same difficulties were experienced by medical crews when they needed to perform the urgent evacuation of casualties.
With a maximum take-off weight of 1,400kg (3,090lb), the AirMule has a planned maximum speed of 97kt (180km/h), a 12,000ft (3,660m) service ceiling and an endurance of up to 5h.
Urban Aeronautics plans to perform its next series of test flights in southern Israel, including activities to open up the AirMule's flight envelope.
Source: Flight International