ISRAELI defence firm Elbit Systems one last Thursday unveiled 1.6 ton unmanned aircraft vehicle  [UAV] designed to fly in airspace currently reserved for piloted civilian planes as a race heats up to deploy military drones outside combat zones.

The move came hours after a US rival staged a landmark transatlantic demonstration flight, as arms vie to develop drones with flexibility to be used in civilian-controlled airspace - a drive that could spawn future technology for unmanned airliners.

Changing security concerns following the dismantling of Islamic State and rising geopolitical tensions have caused European countries to shift defence efforts from faraway conflicts to homeland, resulting in demand for drones that can be safely integrated into civilian airspace to, for example, monitor border crossings, Elbit officials said.

A version of Elbit's Hermes 900 StarLiner is being assembled for the Swiss armed forces and is scheduled to be delivered in 2019 in a deal worth $200 million.

"We are getting a lot of  interest from other customers for the same configuration......... from all over the world," Elad Aharonson, general manager of Elbit's ISTAR division, told Reuters.

The Starliner, being launched ahead of Faranborough Airshow, is derived from the Hermes 900 operated by Brazil for surveillance during the 2014 World Cup. That operation required closing off  airspace to civilian aircraft, something the StarLiner, with technology to detect aircraft and avoid collisions, will not require,  Elbit said.

The drone is compliant with  NATO  criteria, qualifying it to be  integrated into civilian airspace, Eilbit said. It will still need approval of the various civil aviation authorities.

The StarLiner has been flying in the civilian airspace  in Israel over the past year.

California-based General Atomics MQ-9B  SkyGuardian  - a version of the widely used  Predator family - completed its  Atlantic crossing one Wednesday last, just ahead of the world's largest military airshow at RAF Fairford  in western England.

Elbit expects to receive approval from the  European Aviation Aviation Safety Agency.........  { EASA}  for its own product in the coming months. [Agencies].


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!