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Weapons Of Karabakh War: Israel’s ThunderB VTOL Reconnaissance UAV

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Weapons Of Karabakh War: Israel's ThunderB VTOL Reconnaissance UAV

Click to see full-size image

Another of the plethora of Israeli weapons that Azerbaijan uses in its armed forces, and particularly against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh is BlueBird Aero Systems’ ThunderB UAV.

The ThunderB is a small sized tactical UAV (32Kg, 4m wing-span), “with innovative, impressive and effective capabilities previously found only in much larger UAVs, usually with weight of above 150Kg.”

The ThunderB is a vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL).

Due to its long endurance capability (24 hours), its extended control range (up to 150km), and its triple CCD, cooled IR and optional laser pointer payload the drone is presumably a perfect solution for long ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions, mapping on demand for open area as well as urban scenarios for military, peace keeping, low intensity conflict, security, law enforcement, S&R, disaster management and commercial applications.

The new dual-hybrid ThunderB VTOL is capable of taking-off vertically from a very small ground clearing or a small marine vessel by using its quad vertical electrical motors, transition to a level flight powered by its long endurance horizontal fuel-injection engine, and transitioning back to a precise, vertical landing after completing its operational mission while requiring much smaller logistical footprint than required using standard launch and recovery system.

This VTOL capability is achieved by adding a VTOL kit comprising of two booms, with four vertical electrical motors, connected under the ThunderB’s wings, similar to the way the ThunderB carries its releasable cargo capsules.

Weapons Of Karabakh War: Israel's ThunderB VTOL Reconnaissance UAV

Click to see the full-size image

he ThunderB VTOL combines the advantages of a fixed wing UAV (long endurance, high speed, Strong wind penetration, large area coverage, ability to glide in case of emergency), with the advantages of a multi-rotor (ability to takeoff / land in confined areas, ease of transport).

With the VTOL capabilities, and its unprecedented combination of long range (150Km), long endurance (12 hours in VTOL configuration), advanced Full-HD real-time video image and its ability to operate in Com-Jam and GPS denied environments, the ThunderB VTOL can take the lead in tactical land and maritime operations, where takeoff / land areas are limited, like on a ship in mid-sea, on an oil rig or in a small forest clearance, for military, HLS, protecting exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and economical waters as well as civilian applications.

According to Ronen Nadir, CEO of BlueBird Aero systems:

“The new VTOL capability frees the ThunderB UAS from take-off and landing space limitations, paving the way for ThunderB utilization by users who require precise point take-off and landing, together with the advanced operational capabilities already delivered by our field-proven system”. He added “We are happy again to lead the way, be in the forefront of the technology, applying solutions as a result of lessons learnt from operational needs required by our operational customers. BlueBird will continue to be responsive to our customer’s needs and supply them with cutting edge solutions to meet their challenges”.

According to the recent edition of the Drone Databook at Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone, Bluebird UAVs are also used by India, Chile and Ethiopia.

These countries use the 9.5-kilogram SpyLite, which has a range of 50 kilometers. In contrast the ThunderB, which was sold in this contract, weighs 32 kilograms and has a range of 150 kilometers.

It can also carry a small cargo under each wing, which Bluebird says can be used to drop “essential material” with an accurate ballistic trajectory.

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