Aerolight is a close range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed and manufactured by Israel-based Aeronautics Defence Systems for the Israel Air Force and the US Navy. The UAV can perform training, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, gunfire adjustments and reconnaissance missions. It can acquire real time data and transmit it to the ground control station (GCS) through a satellite communication data link.
It can also execute counter terror attacks, law enforcement missions and strategic facilities security operations. Flying at a maximum altitude of 10,000ft, the UAV can provide its operators with real time intelligence data by performing target acquisition and reconnaissance operations over a large area.
The aircraft took its first flight in April 2003.
Aerolight UAV design
Designed to suit both military and civil operations, the Aerolight can take-off from a runway or catapult launcher and be recovered through a parafoil recovery system. The UAV can execute wide range of missions including border and coastal patrol, battle damage assessment and situational awareness.
The Aerolight can be quickly assembled or dismantled and is easily converted for different mission types. It can operate both day and night even in difficult weather conditions. Being a medium-size UAV, it can be easily carried on ground vehicles, helicopters and maritime vessels.
Aerolight close range unmanned aerial vehicle features
The Aerolight features a robust airframe made up of composite materials to reduce its overall weight by 25%. It is fitted with GPS, an inertial navigation system (INS), a high resolution charge coupled display (CCD) and a telemetry data transmission system.
The UAV also houses a UMAS digital flight control system, directional antennae and a multichannel data link system manufactured by Commtact.
An electro-optic camera is fitted beneath the front fuselage section to capture real time imagery or videos. A real time payload control system (RPCS) receives commands and operates the aircraft throughout its mission.
The Aerolight can be operated either manually from the GCS or through autonomous mode. It is fully equipped with an automatic take-off and landing (ATOL) system to aid in automated safe landing during communication failure with the control station.
The Aerolight is equipped with electro-optic (EO) and infra-red (IR) sensors. The EO sensor transforms light rays into electronic signals for capturing the real time imagery or videos of the battlefield.
The UAV is additionally fitted with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), signal intelligence (SIGINT) and communication intelligence (COMINT).
The UAV is powered by a 2-stroke 106cc engine which produces 11hp (8.2kW) of output power. A two bladed propeller is fitted at the rear fuselage section to provide propulsive force to the engine.
Ground control station
The GCS is designed and manufactured by Aeronautics Defence Systems.
The real time data provided by the Aerolight is processed, stored, retrieved and monitored at the GCS. Communication between the UAV and the GCS is enabled through a line of sight (LOS) data link within a range of 150km.
The GCS is built in two different configurations – NOAV GCS and launch and recovery station (LRS). The NOAV GCS accommodates three crew members (internal pilots and payload controller) for operating the UAV. A video monitor displays the data captured by the vehicle.
The LRS is deployed near the runway to ascertain LOS radio and visual contact with the aircraft. The LRS is equipped with a digital video recorder, control panel and keyboard, 19in screen for displaying digital map and real time videos, and control drawers.
The Aerolight can fly at a maximum speed of 185km/h. The cruise speed is 92km/h. The range is 150km. The UAV can loiter in air for a maximum of four hours.