Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is unveiling two new unmanned systems, representing a breakthrough in Vertical Take off and Landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designs. Both designs, named Panther and Mini-Panther employ a new tilt-rotor propulsion concept patented by IAI. Both are designed for tactical use. The Panthers have already performed test flights and are expected to operational ready next year. The new Panther will be displayed tomorrow in Latrun, Israel
Panther combines the flight capabilities of fixed wing airplane with helicopter-like hovering, takeoff and landing, by employing two tilt-rotor propellers, and a vertical lift augmenter propeller providing additional lift for hovering, takeoff and landing. This configuration enables the Panther to be runway-independent, taking off and landing from unprepared areas. This unique, concept can be applied to UAVs of different sizes, providing land forces and special operations units at tactical level the capabilities commonly associated with much larger platforms.
Weighing about 65 kg, the Panther is powered by three electrical motors and packs sufficient power to loiter on missions of up to six hours at an altitude of 10,000 ft. At this altitude operational radius can exceed 60 km. The Panther carries IAI’s MiniPOP multi-sensor electro-optical day-night payload comprising stabilized day and night cameras, laser rangefinder, laser pointer or laser designator. The smaller Mini-Panther is a 12 kg tilt-rotor mini-UAV designed for mission endurance of two hours. This version operates at lower altitudes and carries the miniature ‘Micro-POP’ EO stabilized payload. Both versions are powered by ultra-quiet electrical motors contributing to the Panther’s stealth capability. The Panther’s flight control system is enhanced with automatic transition flight modes controlling the transitions between hovering and forward flight, enabling the Panther to take off and land automatically by a simple click of the operator console, thus eliminating the need for an external pilot. The Panther system employs compact ground control station and support systems packed into a midsize vehicle, storing up to three aircraft, communications datalink, and support equipment, allowing tactical units an autonomous operation. The ground control segment has two operators, using two fully redundant and identical consoles. The two consoles are employed for maximum mission efficiency – according to IAI, the Panther can be operated by a single operator as well. Designed as a portable system, the mini Panther includes two aircraft and a command and control unit carried by two soldiers. 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. IAI is unveiling the Panther tilt-rotor tactical UAV tomorrow, at the Latrun Conference in Israel. IAI’s new UAV will make its international debut later this month, at the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) 2010 Annual Meeting and Exposition in the USA.