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IAI updates Panther UAV design after landing mishap

After investigating the cause of a landing mishap involving its hybrid Panther unmanned air vehicle late last year, Israel Aerospace Industries is to update the vertical take-off and landing design's fuselage and wing to boost performance.

IAI is developing the Front Engine Panther variant in co-operation with South Korea's Hankuk Carbon, which supplies composite materials and other subsystems. During a first demonstration performed last December, the air vehicle was slightly damaged during a hard landing.

An investigation led to the decision to change the airframe and wings. South Korean sources indicate that the Panther's hybrid propulsion system is too heavy for the current airframe and could be updated.

With a maximum take-off weight of 67kg (148lb), including an 8.5kg payload, the FE Panther uses electric batteries to power three motors during take-off and landing, and a gasoline engine during the cruise phase of flight. IAI says this hybrid propulsion system increases endurance and payload capacity from its all-electric Panther, unveiled in 2010.

The FE Panther has a maximum speed of 70kt (130km/h) and a maximum communication range of 32nm (60km).

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