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Elbit Unveils Skylark UAS with Hybrid Power

 - February 16, 2022, 3:00 AM
In service with armies around the world, the Skylark is primarily used to stream battlefield video to a ground control station to support ground forces. The new Hybrid version can remain on station in this role for at least three times longer than earlier variants. (Photo: Elbit Systems)

Elbit Systems has unveiled the latest member of its Skylark small tactical unmanned aerial system (STUAS) family. As its name suggests, the Skylark 3 Hybrid introduces a hybrid propulsion system that marries an electric motor with an internal combustion engine. The result is a three-fold increase in endurance to 18 hours without any change in size or weight, in turn significantly enhancing mission effectiveness and cost-efficiency.

In a typical mission profile the STUAS would use its combustion engine to transit rapidly to the area of interest, before switching to the electric motor for long-endurance, quiet patrol. The hybrid nature of the propulsion system also provides redundancy should one or other of the motors fail, increasing mission reliability and safety. From an operational viewpoint the increased endurance translates into increased loiter time over the area of interest, and reduces the number of platforms required to perform set surveillance missions.

Entering service with the Isreali armed forces in 2008, the Skylark STUAS is intended for both dismounted and vehicle-launched operations in support of ground forces, and to date 27 countries have ordered it. Elbit produced it in three major iterative versions, the latest of which—the Skylark 3—it unveiled in 2016. It has a 4.7-meter wingspan and weighs 50 kg at takeoff. Service ceiling is 12,000 ft and range is around 120 km.

The Skylark 3 can carry two payloads and features “plug and play” interfaces so that personnel can rapidly reconfigure it in the field. The range of available palyoads includes high-resolution electro-optical sensors, electronic and communications intelligence systems, and laser designators. A crew of two is required to launch the STUAS from a pneumatic launcher, which can be installed on a vehicle or naval vessel. The ground control station can be used to manage two Skylark 3s simultaneously.