Australia Deploys Skylark UAVs to Iraq
On Wednesday, DID noted the popularity of the RQ-11 Raven mini-UAV in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the interest in American UAVs and doctrine among other Western armies. That article also included mini-UAV announcements by the Canadians and British. Now Australian Defence Minister Sen. Robert Hill has said that 4 of Elbit Systems’ Skylark IV mini-UAVs will be deployed to Iraq, where they will assist the second rotation of the Al Muthanna Task Group (AMTG2). He also said the Government was investing more and more on research and development of unmanned vehicle technology for use in future operations and for surveillance purposes.
So, what’s the Skylark IV?
The Skylark IV is a man-pack system for close range, over the hill surveillance and reconnaissance. It is slightly larger than the RQ-11 Raven, with a wingspan of 2.4 meters (8 feet), a mission endurance of two hours, and payloads that can include a color television camera and a thermal sensors, providing gimbaled and stabilized payloads for day and night observation.
The mini-UAV weighs 5.5 kg (about 12 pounds) and can reach a speed of 40 knots, with a mission radius of between 5-10 km (3-6 miles). The Skylark can undertake fully autonomous flight if necessary, and is exceptionally quiet due to its electric propulsion system.
The Skylark system includes three Air Vehicles, a Ground Control Station and the day and night payloads. The system can be carried in two back packs and operated in mission by two soldiers, but additional launch options are available – including by air from various manned or unmanned platforms, or ground launch by rail. The UAV is controlled through full, downsized or man-portable tactical miniature ground-control stations which draw from the Hermes UAV family heritage, and offers real time continuous video and telemetry data transmission via a new Spectralink-developed data link.
According to Elbit Systems’ corporate release [PDF], Elbit Systems was selected in 2004 by the Israeli Ministry of Defense to supply Skylark mini-UAV systems for the IDF Ground Forces Command. The Skylark systems were delivered to the IDF, and are currently in operation.