So-called "over the hill" battlefield intelligence can be delivered using a series of small, cheap payloads that will supply visual infrared to frontline army units, says Israel Aircraft Industries division Tamam.

The company has developed payloads that can be launched in a mortar shell or from a helicopter. The "Sky Spy" has been designed to provide close-range intelligence that may eventually be supplied by micro unmanned air vehicles, but without requiring the infrastructure of the latter.

The small optical payload consists of four cameras that create a mosaic image and eliminate the need for a scanning camera. Zion Sarig, Tamam general manager, says the payload can photograph a 1,600 x 1,200m (5,200 x 3,900ft) area, with a 1.3m resolution from an altitude of 6,000ft.

The experimental Sky Spy payload has been tested in a 120mm mortar shell. The payload can also take pictures over the mortar's trajectory before it is released and hangs on a parachute.

Tamam says the same small, cheap payload will be adapted for dispersion by a helicopter. The images are transmitted to a backpack laptop-based receiving station.

Source: Flight International