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Israeli navy picks Orbiter 2 UAV

Israel's navy has selected Aeronautics Defense Systems' Orbiter 2 unmanned air vehicle for deployment from some of its combat vessels.

Launched by catapult for maritime use, the air vehicle is sealed so that it can float on the water after landing. It can be prepared for its next mission within "a few minutes" of being recovered on to a ship's deck, according to Israeli sources.

The UAV has a 1m (3.28ft)-long fuselage, a 3m wing span and offers a mission endurance of 3.5h. Maximum take-off weight is 9.5kg (20.9lb), including an electro-optical or infrared camera, Aeronautics says.

Israel operates air force-owned Eurocopter AS565MA (Atalef) helicopters from its navy's Saar-5 missile corvettes, but had sought a new capability to use smaller fixed-wing reconnaissance systems from additional maritime platforms.

Aeronautics Defense Systems Orbiter 2 UAV Aeronautics Defense Systems
 ©Aeronautics Defense Systems

Aeronautics is also developing an Orbiter 3 design, which will have a larger volume fuselage, 3.6m wingspan and more than 10h endurance.

Separately, Israel's defence ministry is evaluating its policy concerning Aeronautics' potential export of larger UAVs, with the process aimed at meeting the terms outlined in the international Missile Technology Control Regime. This seeks to restrict the proliferation of long-range weapons, UAVs and related technologies.

The Israeli company has been flying an unmanned version of the Diamond DA42 light aircraft since June 2009, and is providing services with the so-called Dominator 2 under a lease agreement with the Turkish army.

Currently powered by two Thielert diesel engines, the 2,000kg Dominator 2 can carry a 300kg payload for missions lasting up to 28h. The aircraft can fly at an altitude up to 30,000ft, and has a maximum speed of 190kt (351km/h).

Aeronautics and Boeing signed a recent teaming agreement aimed at meeting the growing demand for medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs. The US company's initial marketing efforts will be made in NATO member countries, plus Australia, Austria and Switzerland.

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