The IAF's use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has increased dramatically in recent years, the IDF website reported Sunday. It quoted Lieutenant Colonel Amir Weiss, of the IAF's UAV department, as saying that UAVs now conduct more than 50% of the Israel Air Force's flight hours. Weiss spoke at the 2011 Aerospace Conference last week.
Weiss said that "the flight hours of UAVs require a growing amount of missions, made possible by the growth of forces in significant numbers in recent years."
He added that the IAF is also investing resources in safety systems for the drones and presented data showing a large decrease in the loss of vehicles in the past decade.
Lt. Col. Weiss noted that the IAF is rapidly developing the use of alternative energy in UAVs. "Many UAVs already use solar energy and in the future UAVs will use fuel cells," reported the IDF Website's Idan Soncino.
The IAF's fleet of various types of UAVs continues to widen the scope of its activities and according to Weiss, the drones have taken on a role of "immense importance" in the IAF.
"The spectrum of tasks is growing bigger," he said. "Already today, [the UAVs] are active in all types of IAF operations – from intelligence gathering to supporting ground forces. But there is plenty more that UAVs can do. There are endless possibilities for this platform."