Defense Update News:

Israeli Battalions to Get Skylark UAVs

Elbit Systems to supply up to 100 Skylark 1 LE Mini-UAV systems extending battalion commander's view 'over the hill'

The Israel Defense Forces has selected an enhanced version of Elbit System's Skylark mini- UAV for operation at the battalion level. The IDF is operating the Skylark since 2005, as part of an operational evaluation by the Ground Forces Command. Following the recent selection, Skylark mini-UAVs will become an integral battalion level mini UAV, providing battalion commanders and company leaders the capability to look 'over the hill', significantly extending their intelligence gathering under all types of contingencies, from low-intensity conflict to full scale war. (more...)

Skylark 1 LE Mini Unmanned Aerial vehicle (M-UAV) Photo: Elbit Systems

Other attributes considered unique to this type of aerial vehicle are the capability to operate 'under the clouds', even under severe weather conditions, and the low acoustic signature, enabling stealthy operation, particularly at night.

Other systems evaluated by the IDF for this role included the Orbiter, from Aeronautics, the Skylite B from Rafael and Blue-Bird Aero Systems, The Birdeye 400 from IAI and Casper 250 from Top-I-Vision and Rotem Industries' Sharvit group. All systems systems competing for the 'Sky Raider' program were enhanced to meet expanded operational requirements, particularly regarding range, and endurance capabilities.

The IDF intends to buy up to 100 systems at an estimated cost of $30 million. U-STAMP mini-payload comprising a mini-FLIR, configured for mini-UAVs such as the Skylark. Photo: ContropEach system that packs into a backpack comprises three aircraft, two miniature STAMP payloads, developed and produced by Controp, designed for daylight and night operation, a ground station, operating console and communications link.

The Skylark system has been operational since 2004, and is extensively used by several members of ISAF in AFghanistan since 2005. The IDF has also employed the system to a limited degree during the 2nd Lebanon War.

While the IDF began evaluating the Skylark in 2003, the system has been widely endorsed and is operating with International customers for several years. Australia, Canada, Sweden and France are among the international operators of the Skylark. The system is also being evaluated for possible deployment in support of the Dutch forces in Afghanistan.