In early July, Israel Aerospace Industries demonstrated the Rotem UAS—a proof-of-concept quadcopter drone capable of providing both airborne surveillance and an explosive punch. The lightweight drone, which can be carried in a backpack and flown by one person, comes with a “combat head” that turns it into a guided weapon.
Rotem folds down into a package 38 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 5 inches high. According to a report from Israel Defense, the drone has a number of “automated modes.” It has automatic take off and landing control, an emergency “return home” feature, and can navigate to a given set of coordinates or follow a pre-specified route without operator interaction. It can also be put into automated observation and attack modes once a target is designated, and the drone can “safe ditch” and disable its warhead if an attack is aborted.
A number of fixed-wing “loitering munitions” have been produced in the past, such as Aeronautics Defense Systems’ Orbiter 1K—a suicide drone that drew unwanted attention when Aeronautics’ live-fire sales demonstration to Azerbaijan turned into an attack on an Armenian military position. In the US, Textron developed Battlehawk—essentially a fixed-wing loitering hand grenade—in 2013. And the US Army started purchasing the tube-launched fixed-wing Switchblade from AeroVironment back in 2011.
But the problem with fixed-wing systems is that they require some method of launch and tend to be difficult to recall after launch. Rotem’s advantage is that it can be called back and safely land for reuse if there’s a need to stand down.
Listing image by Israeli Aerospace Industries