Israeli mini-UAVs being used by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Skylark can be used for both military and homeland security applications including perimeter security, border and coastal surveillance, anti-terrorism surveillance and law enforcement.Israeli technology is helping US-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan gather intelligence. Manufactued by Elbit, one of …

The Skylark can be used for both military and homeland security applications including perimeter security, border and coastal surveillance, anti-terrorism surveillance and law enforcement.Israeli technology is helping US-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan gather intelligence.

Manufactued by Elbit, one of Israel’s leading defense electronics companies, the Skylark miniature unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is operational “and currently deployed in the global war on terror in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan,” the company said in a statement released this week ahead an upcoming air show in Australia.

There was no confirmation from US military regarding the statement.

Designed for “close range, beyond-the-next hill, counter-terror missions,” the little Skylark can be carried, launched and operated by a single soldier, covering an area within a range of seven miles day or night, said the company.

According to the statement, the Skylark can be used for both military and homeland security applications including perimeter security, border and coastal surveillance, anti-terrorism surveillance and law enforcement.

Launched by hand and recovered by autonomous maneuver with airbag protection assuring safe landing in any terrain, Skylark features fully autonomous flight, real-time continuous video and telemetry data transmission and rugged portable tactical computers for command and control.

Elbit said the Skylark would be unveiled to the public at the March 20-25 Australian International Airshow.

According to the Defense-Update.com site, in February 2004 Elbit won an IDF Ground Forces Command contract to supply the Skylark for evaluation and testing as an organic UAV system, to be operated by infantry units. Skylark has since entered operational service with selected IDF units, used for operational testing and doctrine development and evaluation.

During last summer’s war in Lebanon, Skylark mini-UAVs were operated by IDF units performing close-in reconnaissance missions in support of the ground forces, providing valuable real-time intelligence, due to their low acoustic and visual signatures, Skylarks were able to operate at very low altitude practically undetectable.

In 2005 the Australian MOD selected the Skylark to support the deployment of Australian forces in Iraq. Six systems were procured and deployed to Southern Iraq. In September, 2006 Thales Canada announced it has been selected by the Department of National Defence Land Forces to deliver a mini-UAV system based on Elbit’s Skylark technology.

Last year, the Skylark II, a newer and larger model of the Skylark, received Popular Science’s ’2006 Best of What’s New’ Award in the Aviation and Space category. The Skylark II expands on its predecessor with a wider range of 35 miles, longer stay in the air and is operated by a crew of two people only.

“The selection of our Skylark II UAV system by a leading technological magazine, attests to Elbit Systems’ positioning as a ground breaking and innovative company in the field of UAV systems,” said Joseph Ackerman, President and CEO of Elbit.

The Skylark is the latest Elbit addition to other UAVs designed for diverse missions. These include the Hermes 450, an upper range tactical UAV, the Hermes 1500 for medium altitude long endurance (MALE) and the Hermes 180, suited for brigade-level intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.