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'Panther' Tilt-Rotor UAV Debuts In Israel

Israel Aerospace Industries Developed The Aircraft For Tactical Missions

Up to now, UAVs have primarily followed one of two conventional designs: fixed wing like a conventional airplane, or rotary wing like a helicopter. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has taken the wraps off a third configuration. It unveiled the "Panther" tilt-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for tactical missions, at the Latrun Conference in Israel this week. The Panther will be exhibited for the first time internationally at the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA) 2010 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C., October 25-27, and the new line of UAVs also includes the "Mini Panther".


Panther UAV

IAI says he Panther 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 enable a runway-free takeoff and landing on an unprepared area. The unique concept has been patented by IAI.
An innovative automatic flight control system controls the transitions between the hovering takeoff phase to forward flight and then back to hover before landing. The Panther takes off and lands autonomously, which eliminates the need for an external pilot.

"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," said Itzhak Nissan, President and CEO of IAI. "We consider the innovative technology used in this system to be ground-breaking."

Both aircraft are powered by 3 electric motors. IAI says the Panther, which weighs roughly 143 pounds, can remain on station for approximately 6 hours, at an altitude of up to 10,000 feet, with a radius of operation of over 37 miles. The Panther UAV carries IAI's Mini-POP (Plug-in Optronic Payload) - a day/night stabilized camera with a laser range finder, pointer or laser designator. The Mini Panther, which weighs up to 26 pounds, can remain airborne for approximately 2 hours, and carries IAI's Micro-POP.

The Panther control station, transported on a midsize vehicle, can store up to three aircraft, as well as the ground data link, the support equipment and spare parts, all of which allow the troops' autonomous operation on the field at a tactical level. Two operators control the mission using two fully redundant identical consoles.

The portable Mini Panther system includes 2 planes and a command and control unit, and is carried in backpacks by two soldiers. Both platforms, designed to be entirely automatic, can be controlled by one operator, while the command and control station has two operators to control the station and oversee the mission.

IAI says it expects the Panther systems to be operational by 2011.

FMI: www.iai.co.il

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