The Mosquito, IAI's micro-UAV
The Mosquito, IAI's micro-UAVIsrael news photo: (Israel Aerospace Industries)

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) revealed a unique hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at an aeronautics conference earlier this month. The ultra-light UAV, called the Mosquito, was developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Defense for use by combat units in gathering field intelligence.

Weighing only 500 grams, the Mosquito is almost half as light as the micro-class UAVs developed thus far. It has a range of two kilometers and can run autonomously for 40 minutes at a time, even in winds of up to 25 knots. Equipped with a miniature camera, the micro-UAV can be maneuvered from the launch site by troops monitoring it in flight.

The advantage of the Mosquito is not limited only to its size and weight. IAI researchers developed a unique, hand-held launching system adapted from the design of a fishing harpoon. The harpoon design, according to IAI officials, is reliable, compact and especially useful for rapid deployment from within armored vehicles, through narrow windows or from moving vehicles.

Two Mosquito micro-UAVs, the command and control device, and a communications pack can fit in a single briefcase. The system was designed for use by a lone non-specialist soldier operating in most environmental conditions. Guided to a predetermined landing point, which it reaches by parachute, the Mosquito can then be easily packed up for its next mission.

The Mosquito was first unveiled during the design stage in 2005, but it has been slowly developed ever since, culminating in its public demonstration flight at the September 2009 Latrun Conference. As of last month, the IAI had not publicized any client orders for the new design, but recent news of its improved operating success is expected to generate international interest.

IAI's UAV division boasts an "unsurpassed track record of over 450,000 operational flight hours for over 42 customers on four, continents... offering the widest range of combat-proven systems."