Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
02 Jun 17. Israel Defense Forces Receive Skylark 3. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are preparing to receive the first tranche of Skylark 3 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in June, service officials have disclosed.
According to Major Itai Turgeman, Deputy Commander of the IDF Artillery’s Skyrider Unit (which retains operational control of Skylark 1 UAS), an undisclosed number of air frames will be delivered to multiple base locations in the vicinity of Israel’s border areas with an initial operating capability scheduled to begin almost immediately.
Full operating capability will be achieved when the remaining deliveries of UAS are completed later in the year, although Turgeman was unable to provide further details when this will be executed.
‘After we have conducted all our checks, Skylark 3 will immediately be used on operations. We are towards the end of this process,’ Turgeman explained. ‘It will take our operators a few weeks to learn the system and become professional in operating them but after that, Skylark will become fully operational.’
The Skylark 3 was unveiled in February 2016 as a ‘beyond the next hill’ reconnaissance, counterinsurgency and force protection solution. The air frame has a maximum range of more than 100km; endurance up to six hours; and 10kg payload capacity.
The UAS is launched from a ground or vehicle-mounted pneumatic launcher and includes an electric motor for reduced acoustic signature. The Skylark 3 comprises a 4.8m wingspan, maximum take off weight of 45kg and maximum operating altitude of 15,000ft.
The Skylark 3 will be used as a Brigade-level asset and operated in collaboration with the Skylark 1 which will continue to be used as a Battalion-level asset, Turgeman confirmed.
‘Skylark 3 is a bigger air frame, providing us more time in the air, better cameras, better communications and longer range,’ he added.
Skylark 3 air frames will operate from the same ground control station (GCS) used to control Skylark 1 UAS, with Turgeman explaining how a single operator would be able to simultaneously control both a Skylark 1 and 3 air frame from the same GCS. Alternatively, an operator will be able to control a pair of Skylark 1 or 3 air frames from the GCS.
‘Two Skylark 3 vehicles can be assigned to the same mission simultaneously, meaning a consistent target acquisition is maintained from two aspects. This also offers ground forces the ability to significantly extend the flight endurance of their mission by UAS hot-swap,’ Elbit Systems confirmed. Operators will then be able to pass targeting data to a variety of ground and airborne effectors including artillery and attack helicopters, for example.
‘We will work with both air frames all over the country, sometimes together and sometimes separately,’ Turgeman described, while explaining how the air frames would be used for intelligence-gathering operations.
‘Skylark 3 will be stationed near the borders with a main role to guard the border from the enemy [and] will cooperate together to give the best intelligence for [IDF] fighting brigades.’
Referring to any additional and specialist payloads carried by Skylark 3, Turgeman was only able to confirm that Skylark 3 will be equipped with ‘multiple camera payloads’ including electro-optical and infrared options for day and low light missions.
Turgeman confirmed Skylark 3 would also be used to support Special Operations Forces, before concluding:
‘Skylark 1 made a big revolution on the battlefield for ground forces. Today, there is no battalion commander that will go into an operation without it. I believe Skylark 3 will bring an even bigger revolution and will take further help for the ground forces on the battlefield.’ (Source: UAS VISION/Shephard Media)
01 Jun 17. Australian Department of Defence to invest $75.2m in small UAS. The Australian