The Israeli Navy is planning to deploy more types of UAV’s from its vessels after tests with one type proved the operational capabilities under different scenarios. Last year, the service deployed the Elbit systems SkyLark 1LE on some of its small patrol boats for the first time after the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) ground units deployed some versions of the SkyLark in the “Sky Rider” unit of the IDF’s artillery corps. Here, it serves other ground units but the Israeli Navy is in the midst of an effort to gain such extended capability. The maritime version of the SkyLark is launched from the vessels and lands on the sea, though its payload is not affected by the water and can be launched soon after it is retrieved, giving the navy’s ships the capability to locate and identify targets at long ranges. The IDF’s ground forces have in recent years received the Skylark 1LE, an improved version which has an endurance of three hours and an operational ceiling of 15,000 feet with a wing span of 10 feet and 15 pound takeoff weight.
Bigger, better SkyLark
In 2018, the SkyLark 3 version gained full operational status by participating in some major IDF drills where it serves the brigade commander level of command. Based on technology developed for the existing Skylark versions, the Skylark 3 has a range of over 100 km, flight endurance of up to 6 hours, a max takeoff weight of 40 kgs and payload capacity of up to 10 kg. It is launched by a pneumatic launcher, mounted either on the ground or on a vehicle and powered by an electric motor which reduces sound signature and enables operation over long distances and at high altitudes with a 15 feet wingspan and a service ceiling of 15,000 ft. The Israeli Navy is now evaluating some more UAV types that are capable of serving an extended list of maritime missions.