An Israeli defense company is partnering with an American counterpart to produce what could be the next generation of suicide drones for the US army, The Jerusalem Post reported. Israel’s UVision is working with US giant Raytheon to adapt the Israeli-designed Hero-30 remotely-operated loitering munition to US military requirements, offering the weapon to American infantry units for use in future battles.
The Hero-30 is designed for use by individual soldiers, and one person can carry up to three drones at a time. Weighing in at just three kilograms (6.6 lbs), the Hero-30 is the lightest suicide drone. It can carry a half-kilo warhead.
The drone is launched from a canister using air pressure alone, and can fly up to 30 minutes on its electrical engine and wings before attacking a target like a missile.
During launch, the weapon leaves behind no acoustic or thermal signature. Yair Dubester, Director of UVision, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that it sounds “like a champagne bottle being opened.”
According to Dubester, the US army came to the conclusion during battles in Afghanistan and Iraq that such munitions were vital. “They concluded that without this, they don’t go to war,” he said. He noted that the US army is about to open a tender for Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile Systems (LMAMS), aiming to make such weapons small, extremely accurate (to avoid friendly fire), and accessible to all infantry soldiers, not just special forces.
“Through past sales, which I can’t detail, we recognized their awareness to these products. Raytheon then linked up with us,” Dubester said.
The Hero-30 “take off like a missile and flies like a drone. It can carry out day and night surveillance like a drone. When it finds a target, it can attack from above, or behind,” he explained.
“The hard part was teaching a missile to fly like a plane,” he added, which is how the munition is able to loiter and search for its targets.
This would not be the first Israeli-made drone used by the US army. In fact, the US purchased Israel Aerospace Industry’s (IAI) Pioneer and Hunter drones in the 1980s and 1990s before it began producing its own.
“The systems they use today still have Israeli DNA,” Dubester said.
Raytheon also released a statement recently, saying “the adapted system will meet the U.S. Army’s requirement for Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile Systems.”