Israel Aerospace Industries has added its "Black Panther" to its extensive portfolio of unmanned aerial vehicles - better known as "drone" in plain English. However, the Panther is quite unique in its overall field capability, having been designed from the outset as a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle with a tilt-rotor concept similar in scope and capabilities to a manned wide-body aircraft. Scaled American V-22 Osprey tiltrotor transport aircraft.
As a result, the Panther does not require runway distance to take off or land, increasing its tactical value for forces operating in confined spaces. Production of the IAI Panther will be handled by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), best known for its Kfir line of manned multi-role aircraft as well as Pioneer and Heron drones.
Black Panther made its public debut in October 2010 and is believed to enter full operational service sometime in 2011.
Drones have completely disrupted the balance of modern warfare, allowing the use of drones to perform a variety of battlefield missions without risk to the pilot. These roles include reconnaissance, surveillance, artillery detection, tracking and engagement.
Some are fully autonomous and require no human input, while others are controlled from a site or line of sight thousands of miles away. With Panther products, the drone is controlled by two people via the provided control station. This allows the Panthers to operate within 37 miles of their combat radius. The system typically operates at altitudes up to 10,000 feet and lasts about 6 hours. Only the takeoff and landing process is handled autonomously.
At this point, the Panther is still an unarmed vehicle, primarily used for its tracking facility. As such, its payload typically consists of sensors, cameras, laser pointers, and laser rangefinders. Overall, the Panther system weighs 140 pounds.
Externally, the Panther is a fixed wing design with a large span main wing attachment. These wings are mounted lower along the streamlined, tubular, pointed fuselage. Outriggers extend aft from the trailing edge of each wing and mount vertical fins on the tail. These fins are then connected by a horizontal plane that acts as a stabilizer for the aircraft. The landing gear is movable and retractable and consists of two main legs and a front leg.
Power is provided by three electric motors, two located near each wing root and a third at the rear of the fuselage. All three hold points are positioning systems, raised in vertical flight and lowered in horizontal flight.
During descent, the wing mounting system operates in the towing unit, while the fuselage mounting unit operates in the thruster unit. All engines are automatically positioned by the onboard system.
Beyond the basics, the full-fledged Panther is the Mini-Panther, a more compact product designed to improve portability and reduce acquisition/maintenance costs. Appropriately, the capabilities of this machine are somewhat reduced, including a stay window of less than two hours and limited payload capacity.
However, the control station is very portable and can be transported on foot in two packs.
9,843 ft (3,000 m; 1.86 mi)
75 miles (120 km; 65 nmi)
No. Equipped with sensor equipment, laser pointer, laser rangefinder and camera.
Panther - Base Series Name
Mini-Panther - Compact version with two hour dwell time and portable control station.