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Dubai Airshow 2021: Israeli companies offer space systems, UAVs to the Middle East

14th November 2021 - 19:48 GMT | by Leonid Nersisyan in Dubai

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The TecSAR satellite is available for Middle Eastern clients (Leonid Nersisyan)

UAVs and new communications and Earth observation satellites were among the systems presented by Israeli companies at the Dubai Airshow.

At the Dubai Airshow, two Israeli companies - Rafael and IAI - presented their space developments, dedicating a prominent part of their pavilions to satellite systems.

Rafael presented the LiteSat system, a constellation of small satellites of different types, generating near real-time intelligence with high target revisit. That allows operators to track a mobile target using only space instruments.

According to a company representative, Rafael plans to launch satellites of up to four different types into low-earth orbit (350-400 km). Having a constellation of ten satellites allows a target to be revisited every hour.

The Imilite processing platform uses advanced AI/ML algorithms to generate intelligence products from a vast amount of raw data.

There are four types of satellites available for customers: a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite, with a 50cm resolution; an electro-optical (EO) satellite, with a 30cm resolution; a combined SAR+EO satellite, which provides the functions of both satellites; and an EHR satellite, which is lighter and cheaper than the basic EO satellite and provides 35 cm resolution

All the satellites have a six-year operational life and provide video (FPS 3-4) and photo modes.

According to Rafael’s representative, the launch of the prototype satellite is planned to be done in 1.5 years. Still, even at this stage, there is solid interest in the project from Israel, some Middle Eastern countries and some countries from other regions.

For its part, IAI presented ‘classical’ models of their satellites. 

The TecSAR satellite was launched in 2008 and is available for Middle Eastern clients. The satellite provides a 50 cm resolution radar image, weighs 295 kg and flies at an orbit of 580 km.

Another model is OptSat-3000, an optical observation satellite which, according to an IAI representative, provides resolution under 30 cm – although they refused to give the exact number.

IAI also showcased the Optsat-180 observation nano-satellite, which weighs only 25 kg and provides 1.2-meter resolution (for video and photo). This satellite is more focused on civil purposes compared to other models.

Meanwhile, the Israeli company UVision showcased the lineup of its Hero loitering munitions.

The Hero-30 drone is the smallest and can carry a 0.5 kg warhead to 10 km. Weighing in at only 3.5 kg, the UAV has an endurance of 30 minutes.

The company’s most successful model is the Hero-120 drone, which has an endurance of 60 minutes and can carry a 4.5 kg warhead up to 40 km.

Another showcased model is Hero-400, which weights 40 kg and carries 10 kg warhead with a range of 60 km. The endurance of this model is 2 hours.

According to a company representative, UVision is currently primarily focused on the US and Israeli market because it is still a medium-sized company, compared to other Israeli companies manufacturing UAVs and loitering munitions.

UVision already has a contract with U.S. Marine Corps for more than 6000 Hero-120 loitering munition for the US Marine Corps Organic Precision Fire Mounted (OPF-M) System. The system will be integrated with LAV-M, JLTV, and LRUSV. Also, he noted that the US version of Hero-120 uses the same warhead as the Javelin ATGM.

According to the UVision representative, there is an interest in the Hero-120 and Hero-400 from Azerbaijan. The county already operates a vast number of different Israeli aerial unmanned systems.

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