Elbit ups range to 100 km with new Skylark 3 drone

Elbit says the Skylark 3 is aimed at military working in "beyond the next hill" missions(Credit: Elbit Systems Ltd)

Elbit Systems has welcomed a new addition to its lineup of small unmanned aircraft, taking the wraps off a lightweight, fixed-wing drone called the Skylark 3. The vehicle is designed to aid military personnel working on the ground by scouting out their surroundings, with a number of performance upgrades over the preceding members of Elbit's Skylark family.

Boasting a 4.8 m (15.7 ft) wingspan and a payload capacity of 10 kg (22 lb), the Skylark 3 has a maximum take-off weight of 45 kg (99 lb) and is significantly larger and heavier than its stablemates. As a result, it takes to the skies with help of a pneumatic launcher, which can be either mounted on the ground or on a vehicle, as opposed to a mobile catapult like that employed from the manpacked Skylark I and Skylark II.

However, the extra size gives the new addition a range of over 100 km (62 mi), with the ability stay aloft for up to six hours at a time, compared to the three-hour flight time and 40-km (25-mi) range of Elbit's other current offering, the Skylark I-LEX man-portable drone. Previous models have offered ranges up to around 60 km (37.3 mi).

Powered by an electric motor with a 15,000 ft (4,572 m) maximum operational altitude, Elbit says the Skylark 3 will also offer better target detection, classification and surveillance through day and night, with improved Electro Optical/Infrared video and photo capabilities.

Users can also operate two Skylark 3s through the same ground control station, meaning both can be assigned to the same mission to make for two continuous vantage points or the ability to prolong surveillance missions by swapping them in and out.

Elbit says the Skylark 3 is aimed at military working in "beyond the next hill" recon, counterinsurgency and force protection missions, but could also find its way into non-military settings, such as border security and anti-terror operations. The Skylark 3 will be on show at this week's Singapore Airshow, between February 16 and 21.

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