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Israeli air force boosts mini UAS capability

The line between operators of mini unmanned air systems (UAS) in the Israeli Defence Forces has become further blurred, with the nation's air force having decided to increase the "in-house" use of such equipment.

Until recently the line was clear: the Israeli ground forces operated mini UAS, while the air force flew larger tactical and strategic systems.

In 2009, the Elbit Systems Skylark 1LE was selected as the IDF's battalion-level UAS.

The 6kg (13.2lb) aircraft has a 2.9m (9.5ft) wingspan and is launched by hand or rail.

Then, in 2010, Elbit's Skylark 2 design was ordered as the infantry's brigade-level system.

The Israeli air force has identified a need for its own system that can operate under the clouds, and first hired the BlueBird SpyLite mini UAS for its missions.

Recently, however, it has decided to increase the autonomous use of such systems, and selected the Aeronautics Defense Systems Orbiter.

"The need for an integral capability to see what is going on in cloudy conditions in low altitudes resulted in the decision," said an Israeli source.

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