close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
AFP
November 29, 2019

Israel’s drone industry growing stronger

World

AFP
November 29, 2019

AIRPORT CITY, Israel: In a fierce battle for market share against world superpowers China and the United States, Israel’s drone industry likes to say it has a secret weapon -- military experience.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used daily by Israel’s military in and around its borders, whether dropping tear-gas canisters on Palestinian demonstrators, monitoring Hizbullah positions in Lebanon or striking Islamic Jihad bases in Gaza.

The senior echelons of the country’s industry are populated by former military and intelligence officials, many of whom became founders or engineers in local startups. Israel’s first rudimentary drone dates back to 1969: it was a remote-controlled plane with an attached camera to spy on neighbouring rival Egypt.

Drones became more common, though not much more technically advanced, during the war in Lebanon from 1978. But half a century later, tiny Israel is now a global force in the multibillion-dollar UAV industry, competing against China and the US. It trades on its unique selling point: enemies at its borders and therefore plenty of opportunities to test and fine-tune its UAVs.

Ronen Nadir was a military commander specialising in missile development before establishing his company, BlueBird Aero Systems. It sells combat drones across the globe, including the WanderB VTol that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter, but has wings to improve speed.

These drones can take off and land in a town, a jungle or the deck of a boat. “You will not believe it, but it took only four and a half months” from the first concept, scribbled on paper, “until this UAV was demonstrated to the first customer,” Nadir said.

Hundreds have been sold since October 2018, he added. “When an American company develops a mini-UAV and then it is used by the Marines in Iraq or Afghanistan, it takes a few years from the development of the system until it is used on the battlefield,” Nadir said.

“In Israel all the people (in the industry) are ex-army soldiers, officers. The engineers who work on the development of the systems are actually operating the UAVs in the (military) reserves, in actual service. Then they come back to the office with actual and real-time feedback.”

Development cycles are therefore short, he said, ensuring that Israel is at the “cutting edge” of the industry. One study often cited by local authorities put Israel as the world’s largest exporter of drones, but it dates to 2013.

Topstory minus plus

Opinion minus plus

Newspost minus plus

Editorial minus plus

National minus plus

World minus plus

Sports minus plus

Business minus plus

Karachi minus plus

Lahore minus plus

Islamabad minus plus

Peshawar minus plus