By Arie Egozi
Azerbaijan is looking to purchase more Israeli made loitering weapons systems and UAVs. However, no further details were provided.
Late last year, the country acquired the Elbit systems SkyStriker loitering weapon system, as a part of the nation’s plan to acquire autonomous strike capabilities. But the Israeli company refused to comment on the contract.
The SkyStriker is the first such system developed by Elbit Systems. A remotely operated electro-optical, precise guided Loitering Munition (LM), the SkyStriker is designed to seek, locate and engage various targets for the tactical level military force.
The new platform is based on Elbit Systems’ vast experience providing precise long-range tactical solutions.
According to Elbit, the SkyStriker is capable of locating, acquiring and striking operator-marked targets enabling high-precision performance. The system’s electric propulsion provides a low acoustic signature and enables covert low altitude operations. Due to its flight speed capability, it can reach a distance of tens of miles within minutes. Upon reaching the target area, it can loiter and pursue the target for up to two hours.
The Israeli company says that the SkyStriker offers quick deployment and ease of operation in the field, and provides forces with the ability to observe and identify an enemy target before delivering a rapid precision airstrike. Its remote operation capability reduces operators’ exposure to detection or enemy fire while guiding the LM to its target. In addition to high accuracy, long range and a significant loitering time, the SkyStriker is capable of carrying up to 21 pounds of munitions.
Elbit says that the system also provides significant flexibility such as the ability to choose any target, to engage at any direction and in various angles (shallow to steep) while significantly decreasing costs. Moreover, SkyStriker enables the operator to abort a strike up to two seconds to impact, to re-engage and in case of lack of authorized targets to order a safe return home.
Azerbaijan is one of the largest weapons-market for Israeli military equipment, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
In the past, the country has purchased another loitering weapon system, the Harop, made by Israel aerospace industries. It also purchased the Lora, long range surface – surface precise rocket.
The Harop has been developed to destroy high quality targets.
It consists of munitions unit, transportable launcher and a mission control shelter, which provides real-time access to control the Harop by a man-in-the-loop.
The Harop can be launched from various transportable platforms including sea and ground based canisters or air launched to navigate towards the potential target area. It can be launched at any angle, horizontal or at a vertical trajectory. The sealed container ensures protection from harsh battlefield conditions.
The Harop is armed with a 35 pounds warhead and is equipped with a very advanced day/night payload (POP-250) made by the Tamam division of IAI. It has an operational range of 620 miles and an endurance of six hours.
A Harop unit is comprised of launchers and a Mission Control Shelter (MCS) which enables missile control with a man-in-the-loop operation, engagement or abort attack capability in real time, thereby avoiding collateral damage. With a warhead of 35 pounds, it can be used in a range of battle scenarios, including low and high intensity conflict, urban warfare and counter terror operations. It is launched from transportable launchers and navigates towards the target area, where it can loiter and search for targets for up to six hours. Once a target, whether stationary or moving, is detected, it is attacked and destroyed. The attack can be performed from any direction and at any attack angle, from flat to vertical.