The world of small, portable Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) is a big one with many players found all over the world. As such, customers have the pick-of-the-litter when it comes to securing the right platform for the right over-battlefield need. Bluebird Aero Systems of Israel produces the Spylite for the "Small, High-Altitude" reconnaissance and data-collecting role and has garnered attention from defense powerhouses such as India.
The Spylite system utilizes a crew of just two ground personnel to setup, launch, operate and recover the UAS. Its payload is variable and can consist of sensors and HD cameras for real-time, high-resolution (1080p) recording and the product can be controlled up to ranges of 50 kilometers (extendable to 80km) for up to four hours. It carries an inherent GPS Jamming protection system for operating in contested airspaces and a backup data link serves as a fall back in communication-loss emergencies. The absolute maximum flight ceiling is listed at 30,000 feet though the UAS typically operates in the 3,000 to 3,300 feet range. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reaches 9.5 kilograms.
Spylite is launched by way of a foldable, lightweight, low-cost rubber-band actuated launcher. The launcher can be operated in all types of weather conditions in day or night time hours. Setup time for the assembly is just fifteen minutes.
For the recovery portion of the Spylite's flight, the system is wholly autonomous and deploys a simply, low-cost parachute to retard its fall at the pre-set landing zone. The aircraft is capable of determining its fall rate based on altitude and wind speed during this process, protecting vital internal systems and the aircraft as a whole. A quick-release mechanism then allows ground operators to detach the used chute to be repacked and reused.
The Bluebird's flexibility extends beyond its capability to reconnoiter for it is cleared for use in target acquisition, disaster / humanitarian relief, mapping, aerial surveying, Search & Rescue (SAR), border security, convoy protection, and law enforcement roles. A low acoustic signature also means that the aircraft is suitable for clandestine work by special forces elements.
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September 2018 - After a successful showing in trials for the Army, India has committed to the Bluebird Aero Systems Spylite Small, High-Altitude UAS.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
4.4 ft (1.35 m)
9.0 ft (2.75 m)
15 lb (7 kg)
20 lb (9 kg)
+4 lb (+2 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Bluebird Aero Spylite production variant)
1 x Engine driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the rear of the fuselage in pusher fashion.
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