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Singapore 2022: Elbit Systems Triples Endurance of Skylark 3

Israeli CAA also Certifies Hermes Starliner for Civil Operations

Elbit Systems has unveiled a hybrid-propulsion variant of its Skylark 3 small tactical UAV at the Singapore Airshow this week.

The Skylark 3 Hybrid, a full-scale model of which is on display at the exhibition, is equipped with both an electric and an internal combustion engine, enabling the platform to triple its flight endurance to up to 18 hours, with no changes to its size. The innovation not only significantly increases mission effectiveness but also cost efficiency of the platform, said company officials.

According to the manufacturer, the aircraft uses its combustion engine to fly rapidly to an area of interest (AOI), then switches to the electrical engine while operating above the AOI. This architecture enables one to back up the other, providing greater reliability and safety. The significantly higher endurance of the Skylark 3 Hybrid is meant to provide forces with greater capacity to hover above an AOI, noted the company, pointing out that, as a result, fewer UAVs are required to execute the same mission.

The Skylark 3 Hybrid which, as is the standard variant, is designed to provide division-, brigade- and battalion-level units with organic airborne ISTAR capabilities, is based on the Skylark family of UAS, ordered by 27 countries to date. It has a 4.7m wingspan, a maximum take-off weight of 50kg, a service ceiling of 12,000ft and a range of 120 kilometres. For comparison, the standard Skylark 3 has a maximum take-off weight of 40kg, a ceiling of 15,000ft and a range of 100km.

The new variant features a dual payload capacity, with a ‘plug and play’ interface for quick replacement of sensors in the field, and can integrate a range of payloads, including high-resolution gimbaled EO sensors, ELINT, COMINT, laser designators and others.

The Skylark 3 Hybrid, which can be mounted on a vehicle or vessel, is launched via a pneumatic launcher and operated by a crew of two. Two of these UAVs can be assigned to the same mission simultaneously, managed by a shared ground control station, according to Elbit.

Meanwhile, the company also announced that Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority has certified a Hermes Starliner UAS for civil aviation, approving it to fly in civilian airspace in like manner to any other civilian airplane and not restricting its flight to unsegregated airspace.

The Type Certificate award from CAAI completes the compliance of the system with the NATO standardisation for approving UAS for integration in civilian unsegregated airspace.

For safety reasons, international aviation regulations have so far prohibited uncertified aircraft from flying in civilian airspace, limiting the operation of UASs to unsegregated airspace until now. The certification issued by the CAAI to the Hermes Starliner UAS has changed this.

Gabriel Dominguez in Singapore for Mönch



The Skylark 3 Hybrid unveiled at Changi this week. (Gabriel Domingquez)

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