Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is to unveil a new tilt-rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) on Tuesday at the Latrun Conference in Israel.
According to an IAI statement, the Panther, which apparently operates on the same principles as the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, is a tactical UAV that ‘combines the flight capabilities of an airplane with helicopter-like hovering, a tilt-rotor propeller, and a fixed wing Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) system, which enables a runway-free takeoff and landing on an unprepared area’.
The statement says that the UAV’s transitions between hovering take-off and forward flight are controlled by an ‘innovative automatic flight control system’. “The Panther takes off and lands automatically by a simple click of the operator console, thus eliminating the need for an external pilot,” says the statement.
The statement quotes the President and CEO of IAI, Itzhak Nissan as saying, “”The Panther’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, along with its effective use of changing flight dynamics, make it a unique and invaluable asset on the tactical battlefield for the Israel Defense Forces and for foreign customers. We consider the innovative technology used in this system to be ground-breaking.”
The 65 kilogram-UAV runs on three electrical motors with an endurance of about six hours, flying up to 10,000 feet with a radius of operation of 60 kilometers. It has onboard the IAI Mini-POP (Plug-in Optronic Payload) day/night stabilized camera with a laser range finder, pointer or laser designator.
IAI also has a 12 kilogram-version called the Mini Panther carrying the Micro-Pop camera, which can loiter for approximately 2 hours. “The portable Mini Panther system includes 2 planes and a command and control unit, and is carried in backpacks by two soldiers,” says the statement.
The Panther control station is transportable on a mid-sized vehicle and can store up to three aircraft in addition to the ground data link, support equipment and spare parts. Missions can be controlled by one or two operators using two ‘fully redundant identical consoles’. The command and control station requires two operators to control the station and oversee the mission.
Prototypes of the Panther platform have conducted successful flight tests and will be operational by 2011, says the statement. It will also make its international debut at the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) 2010 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington DC, between October 25 and 27.