Tactical Robotics of Israel is developing its impressive "Cormorant" Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for various markets including military. A first flight in prototype form was recorded during January of 2009 and the product remains in development as of this writing (2018). Design of the air vehicle is attributed to Rafi Yoeli. Two flyable prototypes have been constructed and the aircraft is under serious review by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for possible use by the service in urban battlefield settings. Service introduction may come as soon as 2019 or 2020 depending on the outcome of the evaluations. The design may also fulfill a NATO requirement for MEDEVAC / CASEVAC in the near-future and there may be some interest on the part of the United States Army.
In a previous life, the Cormorant was known by the names of "AirMule" or simply "Mule". The IDF knows it as the "Pereira", translating to "Dragonfly".
The Cormorant's inherent capabilities (and relatively compact dimensions) allow for it to be piloted over various landscapes including mountainous and urban environments - including far-off, isolated settings typically cut-off from fixed-wing and some helicopter types. Pound-for-pound, the UAV is also billed as a more cost-effective solution than complex, fuel-thirsty helicopters. Like a helicopter, the Cormorant can operate in hover mode, in day or low-light settings, and withstand gusts of up to 40 knots.
The Cormorant is being developed to tackle the ongoing requirements of various industries including engineering (structural review), agriculture (chemical dispersal), Search And Rescue (SAR), fire-fighting, and oil & gas and can also fulfill the roles associated with humanitarian support and disaster relief. The UAV approach also eliminates loss of life as the human pilot is taken out of the vehicle equation (a remote pilot is used instead).
Internally, the system is powered by a patented fan-based lifting arrangement by Fancraft to offer unparalleled precision in the air, allowing the aircraft to safely navigate between buildings or in ravines. This is made largely possible by a four-channel, redundant Fly-By-Wire (FBW) system. Power is from a single Turbomeca (France) "Arriel' 2N turboshaft engine - the same as fitted to modern military and civilian helicopters - that outputs 985 horsepower. This provides the needed lift for the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) mode. Two lift fans are in play, one positioned at the front and the other at the rear of the airframe. For propulsion, smaller fans are positioned outboard of the aft fuselage area. Despite the multiple lift fans, noise levels are negligible for an air vehicle of this size.
Empty weight is listed at 2,020lb and the vehicle's MTOW reaches 3,700lb. Max speed over terrain is 100 knots depending on the payload in question with an endurance window of about 2.5 hours.
In the event of a complete system malfunction, the air vehicle can deploy an optionally-fitted parachute to retard its fall and minimize damage upon impact. The undercarriage is a basic, wheeled four-point arrangement that remains fixed during flight.
The cargo hold can carry up to two patient litters or 500 kilograms worth of cargo including water, food and medical supplies. Optionally, cargo or special mission packs can be fitted externally to further enhance the tactical value of the air system.