Elbit Systems Skylark 3 unmanned air vehicle has achieved operational status, having recently played an active part during a major exercise staged in northern Israel.
Acquired to support brigade commander-level tasks, the Skylark 3 was declared operational following tests performed by the land forces' "Sky Rider", which already uses the smaller Skylark 1 in support of ground forces including artillery units. Its introduction is part of a plan to give the army the ability to use unmanned air vehicles without the need to co-ordinate such activities with the Israeli air force.
Deployed by a pneumatic launcher, the Skylark 3 has a maximum take-off weight of 40kg (88lb), including a 10kg sensor payload. It has a flight endurance of up to 6h, and an operating range of more than 54nm (100km). With a 4.7m (15.4ft) wingspan, the type has an operating ceiling of 15,000ft.
Elbit notes that two Skylark 3s can be assigned to the same mission simultaneously, while using a shared ground control station.
Meanwhile, the Sky Rider unit has temporarily halted operations with its hand-launched Skylark 1s, after two recent crashes involving the type. The UAVs were recovered by Israeli personnel after coming down near Bethlehem and Hebron, respectively.