Israel Aerospace Industries is developing a new line of hovering air vehicles for military and civilian applications, with its first system dubbed the electric tethered observation platform (ETOP).

The electric-powered tethered platform will be used for observation and other applications and can be deployed from a fixed station or moving ground vehicle.

Although hovering vehicles are usually hindered by having to carry a heavy energy source, the ETOP gets around this problem by leaving such equipment on the ground.

The platform's propellers can be used to hover at a predetermined altitude above ground for long periods, with endurance limited only by the ground platform's energy storage capability.

© Israel Aerospace Industries

IAI says the design can carry a payload of up to 20kg (44lb) to a maximum altitude of 328ft (100m), and does not need an operator.

The first prototype of the ETOP system has completed its first 10 flight tests, while a second is also now in use. The system will be operational by 2011.

Source: Flight International