Sunday, March 11, 2007

Israel Air Force Unveils New Aerial Drone

It's not everyday that the Air Force welcomes a new aircraft into its fleet, let alone a new aircraft that was produced and made in Israel.

The "Shoval", which was integrated yesterday (Wednesday) into the "First Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron," boasts a continuous flight capability of up to 30 hours, a significant payload capacity, and an ability to reach high altitudes.

"The Shoval unmanned aerial vehicle that we are introducing today represents a quantum leap in the field of unmanned drones," said Air Force Commander Major General Elyezer Shkedy.

"Its payload, its versatility, and its performance stand at the global technological forefront and will enable us to carry out various missions through the operational perspective."
While the Shoval was officially integrated into the IDF on Wednesday, it has already managed to make its presence felt during the Lebanon war this past summer.

"The Shoval took part in complicated operational missions, proving a capability that doesn't exist in any other system at our disposal," said the commander of the Palmahim Air Force base, Brigadier General Gabi Shahor. "Its participation in the war aided in the pinpoint targeting of rocket launchers and in other complicated, intelligence-related missions."

Despite the fact that it is an unmanned drone, it still requires a crew of soldiers, stationed in a mobile unit, to operate it from a distance.

"This is what we call a 'high-tech mobile unit,' with the best, most powerful computers in the world which enable us to fly the plane and execute missions more complicated than in the past," said Major A., the deputy squadron commander.

"Technology is an excellent thing, and advanced technological capabilities are very significant for the future," Major General Shkedy said. "Whoever doesn't understand this is not reading the map correctly.

And yet, the open secret of the "First Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron" and that of the entire air force is the human advantage. Don't be fooled by the term 'unmanned aerial vehicle'. The vehicle is manned, boy is it ever manned! There may not be anyone sitting inside the body of metal, but the head, the mind, the planning, and its operation is very human, very valuable, very manned - manned, by the best there is, people befitting the enormity of the mission and the responsibility."

View Video of First Official Takeoff: