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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Israeli Company Debuts Tilt-Rotor Drone

Sharon Weinberger
Sharon Weinberger Contributor
(Oct. 5) -- Israel, one of the world's leading makers of unmanned aircraft, unveiled today a new, small drone that can hover like a helicopter and fly like an airplane.

Israel Aerospace Industries debuted its Panther unmanned aerial vehicle in Israel, touting its ability to take off without a runway and then fly for up to six hours. "An intriguing option is the Panther's ability to hover or land quietly in enemy territory, conduct surveillance like a ground sensor and then take off again," industry magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology reported.

An undated handout photo of the Panther drone from Israel Aerospace Industries shows the aircraft on a runway.
Israel Aerospace Industries
The Panther, Israel Aerospace Industries' tilt-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle for tactical missions, will be exhibited for the first time internationally at a U.S. Army trade show in Washington D.C., later this month.
Like the American V-22 Osprey, the Panther is a tilt-rotor, meaning it has rotors mounted on the end of its wings that can rotate and allow the aircraft to transition between hovering and fixed-wing flight. This gives the aircraft the ability to take off like a helicopter without the need for a runway, but then fly like fixed-wing aircraft.

As an unmanned aircraft, however, the Panther is much smaller than the V-22 Osprey, which is designed for transporting troops. The Panther weighs in at just over 140 pounds and is designed for spying rather than transporting.

Israel Aerospace Industries is expected to display the aircraft later this month at a U.S. Army trade show to be held in Washington. The company says that special forces in other countries are interested in buying the vehicle, according to Flight International.

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