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Sky Rider Performing Services for Varied IDF Branches

By Arie Egozi,

The Sky Rider UAS unit of the Israeli artillery corps has been expanded as it is now performing services for many
other branches of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and that has resulted in the acquisition of additional systems and payloads.

The Sky Rider unit operates the Elbit systems SkyLark UAS, which is a man packed system for tactical surveillance and reconnaissance. The SkyLark is launched by hand. The payload consists of a day CCD or optional FLIR for night operations.

Recovery involves a deepstall maneuver, landing on a small inflatable cushion. It has a range of up to 40 km.

The IDF ground forces in recent years has received the improved version of this UAS – the Skylark 1LE.

The endurance has been stretched to 3 hours and the operational ceiling is 15,000 feet.

The wing span of the improved version is 3 meters. The takeoff weight of the improved version is 7 kgs.

The growing demand has accelerated the absorption process of the SkyLark 3, the bigger more capable version of this UAV.

Last year the SkyLark 3 began the process of gaining full operational status by participating in some major IDF drills. While some systems are operational the process for full operational status continues.

The SkyLark 3 serves the brigade commander level of command

Based on the technology developed for the existing Skylark versions the Skylark – 3 has a range of  over  100 km, flight endurance of up to 6 hours, amax takeoff weight of 40 kgs and payload capacity of up to 10 kg.

The SkyLark 3 is launched by a pneumatic launcher, mounted either on the ground or on a vehicle.

The SkyLark 3 is powered by an electric motor which reduces sound signature and enables operating over long distances and at high altitudes, has a 4.7 m wingspan and has a service ceiling of 15,000 ft.

According to Elbit, to support interoperability by using a shared GCS, two Skylark 3 vehicles can be assigned to the same mission simultaneously.

The introduction of the SkyLark 3 into service is part of a major plan to give ground forces the flexibility of operating their UAS without the need to coordinate the operations with the Airforce, that is operating the larger platforms.

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