Israeli company Aeronautics has delivered the first Orbiter 3 small tactical unmanned air system to a first undisclosed customer.
"The Orbiter 3 STUAS brings to the unmanned systems market capabilities that did not exist previously," said Ran Carmeli, head of the aerial division at Aeronautics.
"A field deployed, 25kg [55lb] electric-powered UAS can now deliver the same ISTAR output achieved up to now only by much larger tactical UAS of 100kg and more."
The Orbiter 3 can stay in the air for seven hours and reach ranges of more than 54nm (100km). It can carry a wide range of payloads, including the TD-STAMP from Controp Precision Technologies - a state-of-the-art tri-sensor, gyro-stabilised mini-payload combining CCD, cooled FLIR and a laser designator.
The Orbiter 3 will have great market success and dictate real changes in the UAS market, said Aeronautics chief executive Avi Leumi.
He added that Aeronautics receives constant demands for ISTAR surveillance capabilities to be enhanced while maintaining operational flexibility and small logistics, and said "that's exactly what the Orbiter 3 is all about".
The Orbiter 3 is the largest variant of the Orbiter family of electric-powered UAS. Its smaller variants, Orbiter 1 and 2, are deployed operationally worldwide by more than a dozen customers.
Practically undetectable, Orbiters are used for a wide range of missions in land warfare including ISTAR, artillery support, convoy protection and special operations. In the maritime arena, Orbiters serve as an independent ISTAR asset for naval vessels that can be launched and recovered from their decks.