BlueBird plans rifle-launch test for MicroB air vehicle

By Arie Egozi

BlueBird Aero Systems, the Israeli unmanned air vehicle manufacturer, is planning a test launch of its MicroB system using a standard assault rifle equipped with a bullet trap-based launching device. Chief executive Ronen Nadir says the test will be performed soon, after the receipt of permission from Israel's civil aviation authority.

Weighing 1kg (2.2lb) and with a 0.95m (3.1ft) wingspan, the air vehicle carries a stabilised wide field of view optical payload weighing 240g (8.47oz) made by BlueBird. This is capable of storing still images on a memory chip.

The air vehicle has a maximum airspeed of 46kt (85km/h), a 1h endurance and an operational range of 10km (5.4nm). The entire system, including a UAV and portable ground control unit, can be carried in two cases weighing about 7kg.

The MicroB is offered with a hand-held pneumatic launcher (below), which uses a compressed air container capable of conducting nine launches. "The use of a pneumatic launcher enables the launch of this UAV in side- or back-winds, as well as at high altitudes, where the initial high speed is essential," says Nadir.

Both images © BlueBird Areo Systems

BlueBird says it has already sold MicroB systems to "special forces" in a European army, and to two other undisclosed clients in the USA and South America. The company plans to increase the endurance of the MicroB to 1.5h using an advanced lithium-sulphur dioxide battery.

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