By Paolo Valpolini
A specialist in high end fixed wing unmanned air systems (UAS), Elbit Systems of Israel had already in its portfolio two rotary wing UAS, the Thor and the Nox, respectively with a 10 kg and a 5 kg maximum take-off weight (MTOW). To provide integral airborne surveillance and intelligence assets down at platoon level as well as to paramilitary and low enforcement agencies, the Haifa based company decided the development of an even smaller air vehicle, the Magni, with a 2.5 kg MTOW, that maintains the military data link of its predecessors as well as the smart software used in bigger systems, however with a lesser insertion of high end technology in order to considerably lower the acquisition cost. Once determined that there was room for such a small tactical system, Elbit Systems developed it using some of the bricks already available to the company, giving birth to a quadcopter that can carry payloads up to 350 grams and fly at a distance from its GCS of around 3 km, with a 30 minutes endurance.
It can reach a maximum speed of 40 km/h and fly at 4,000 ft maximum altitude. The payload includes a day and night camera, and all data can be fed into a Battle Management System (BMS); the system is born to be interfaced with Elbit Systems BMS, but the company is ready to integrate it also into other BMS. The data-link is dual and can work in S-band or in LTE (Long-Term Evolution), the Magni being easily deployable in less than one minute, the hard case containing two air vehicles, batteries, cables, antennas and the tablet-based ground control station. However the new UAS by Elbit is also designed to operate from a vehicle, a nest being installed on the vehicle from where the Magni can take off and where it can land once the mission completed. Tests are being carried out on HMMWs, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.
Photos courtesy Elbit Systems and by Paolo Valpolini