IAI is examining the development of a UAV propelled by a jet engine. The goal is to create a UAV capable of reaching an operational area as fast as possible
srael Aerospace Industries (IAI) confirmed for the first time that it is examining the development of a UAV operating with a jet engine. Details of the development of new UAV models at IAI and other companies were unveiled at the Space and Aviation convention that took place at the end of November 2011 in Jerusalem. Technology Group organized the convention, and professionals from Israel and around the world participated.
Tommy Silbering, CEO of IAI's MALAT plant, said, "the plant is examining a jet-propelled UAV, however we think that the world is not yet ready for them." This was the first official hint regarding the effort to develop jet UAVs in Israel.
As of now, propeller engines drive all Israeli-produced UAVs. Some of them are connected to a fuel-operated engine and others to an electric engine. Parallel to the efforts to develop fuel cells as an efficient source of energy to propel mostly small UAVs, IAI has begun to examine the issue of jet UAVs. These are meant to arrive at an operational area quickly. It seems that the only determining factors for the company to enter a full project to develop and manufacture a jet UAV are the IAF’s operational considerations and the assessment of the demand in the global market.
Jet UAVs are being developed around the world, primarily for carrying armaments. The UAVs that are intended for intelligence missions are equipped with thruster engines, as they don't require speed in order to fulfill a mission. Today, there are several jet UAVs around the world (primarily in US production), the most prominent of which is the Global Hawk, intended for collecting intelligence over vast distances. The development of a jet UAV involves overcoming several problems, one of which is the engine noise that exposes it from a distance.
With regards to detection via measures such as radar, there is an effort underway to minimize the detection range as much as possible through various measures, some of which are in use in stealth aircraft such as the F-35. This refers to a unique body design as well as added systems.
Israel has never exposed programs for constructing an assault UAV, although Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have claimed that Israeli UAVs have carried out precision attacks in Gaza for years.