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MADEX 2023: IAI developing maritime patrol radar for VTOL UAVs

A diorama of ship crew operating a VTOL UAV from the flight deck of a corvette on display at IAI's booth in MADEX 2023. The company is developing a new type of radar that can be fitted onboard VTOL UAVs. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is developing a compact radar that will convert ship-based vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into more capable maritime surveillance platforms.

The matter was revealed by an IAI representative who spoke to Janes at the International Maritime Defense Industry Exhibition (MADEX) 2023 in Busan, South Korea.

“Shipborne VTOL UAVs are now equipped with electro-optical sensors that are useful for tactical purposes, but are limited for maritime patrol missions,” said Oren Guter, who is in charge of marketing and business development for IAI's naval programmes, in the meeting with Janes.

“The new radar will be compact enough such that it can be fitted on VTOL UAVs found even on ships like corvettes and offshore patrol vessels (OPVs). This means that more comprehensive airborne maritime surveillance missions can soon be conducted from these smaller vessels,” said Guter.

Besides featuring improved detection capabilities over electro-optical-based sensors, the new radar will be incorporated with automatic classification capabilities to assist operators in identifying possible objects of interest, Guter added.

IAI presently offers a range of maritime surveillance radars based on the ELM-2022 range. Guter did not elaborate on whether the new radar will be derived from this series. However, he disclosed that the yet-to-be-named product is set to undergo trials on a VTOL UAV, which Janes understands to be the ThunderB-VTOL system, within a year.

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