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Aeronautics Group Orbiter (series)

Multi-Role Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Israel | 2010

"The Aeronautics Defense Orbiter, of Israeli origin, fulfills the basic over-battlefield role of reconnaissance and data collection."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/22/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Unmanned Air System (UAS) industry continues its explosive growth in the defense sector led by such concerns as Aeronautics Systems of Israel. The company produces a complete line up of UAS types to cover a myriad of military, security, and peacetime roles. Its marquee product is the "Orbiter" which has seen extensive adoption around the globe with operators ranging from Azerbaijan and Finland to the United Kingdom and the United States.

Orbiter 2

The Orbiter 2 is a compact, highly-portable "mini-UAS" marketed towards various industries including border surveillance, convoy support, special forces operations, and artillery-spotting. It can operate over both land or over-water (maritime) covering requirements related to general patrol, territorial/law enforcement, target observation, target designation, local ship defense, and general surveillance.

This aircraft has a wingspan of 3 meters with an MTOW nearing 10.3kg while a mission payload of up to 1.5kg is supported). Payload types include a stabilized Electro-Optical (EO) camera arrangement for daytime operation, a FLIR setup for low-light/night time level flights, "dual day and night" configuration (stabilized EO camera), and High-Definition (HD) receiving capabilities for terrain mapping and modeling.

Flight operation of the aircraft are conducted through an electric drive powering a two-bladed propeller at the rear of the slim fuselage in "pusher" configuration, the system reaching speeds of 70 kts while range (by Line-of-Sight datalink) is up to 100 km. Automatic waypoint hunting is supported and a mission endurance window up to 4 hours is reported. Only wing mainplanes are used in the aircraft's design (the aircraft lacks traditional tail surfaces) and these are swept back with upturned tips.

The platform has a dual-payload capability to cover operations in both day and night light levels and can be readied in as little as seven minutes while featuring an automatic take-off and recovery process by way of pneumatic catapult and airbag-parachute, respectively.

Orbiter 3

The Orbiter 3 is billed as a "Small Tactical UAV" (STUAV) built on compactness and lightweight. It fits its optics set in the nose (at the chin position) and has a similar two-bladed pusher prop arrangement at the rear of a slim fuselage. The wing mainplanes are blended well into the body (fuselage) but this entry of the Orbiter has down-turned tips as well as the addition of foreplanes near the nose. Like other entries of the series, it can be used in day-night environments and over land or water (maritime).

The optics set is fully-stabilized and includes day, night, FLIR (Forward-Looking InfraRed), and laser designation functionality. A zoom feature provides strong details of the target/target area. The aircraft can be used to satisfy an over-battlefield SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT) role as need be.

Structurally, the vehicle's wing span reaches 4 meters and the mission payload increased to 5.5kg with an MTOW of 40 kilograms listed. Maximum speed is 70 knots and range via datalink is up to 150 kilometers. Take-off is by catapult with recovery by way of netting.

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Orbiter 4

The Orbiter 4 is marketed towards various unique industries including Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) enforcement, target direction, and artillery-spotting and includes many of the capabilities proven through the 3-series model. It features swept-back mainplanes with down-turned tips and foreplanes as in the 3-series UAS. More advanced avionics, ground control support, and communications as integrated into this upgraded form for broader tactical applications. Wingspan reaches 5.4 meters while the MTOW is 50 kilograms and the mission payload increases to 12kg. The datalink gives an LoS range out to 150 kilometers and the vehicle's service ceiling reaches up to 18,000 feet. Endurance is up to 24 hours of flight time.

Greater range and payload capabilities means enhanced versatility for covering a myriad of over-battlefield roles. A three-man team is dedicated to the operation of this model.

Orbiter 1K

The Orbiter 1K has been developed as a "multi-mission" type UAS with a secondary capability as an expendable munitions platform with enhanced loitering times. It sports the same body and wing shape of previous Orbiter iterations (though this form has upturned wingtips). The aircraft can be used as a precise targeted munitions system and comes completed with a video-based tracker, digital communications suite, and variable camera/explosive payload options. Launching is by way of catapult with recovery by airbag/parachute or netting.

The Orbiter 1K is based in the original Orbiter 2 production model.

The Azerbaijani Army uses the Orbiter and the country has established local production facilities to support it. Other armies fielding the vehicle are Finland, Ireland, Peru, Poland (including special forces), Serbia, South Africa, and Spain. Israeli Sea Corps, Mexican Federal Police, the Royal Thai Air Force are all known operators of the type. The series has also been evaluated by the United Kingdom and the United States, the former which has ordered three units.

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January 2019 - The Israeli state-owned concern of Rafael is seeking to purchase Aeronautics Defense, a publicly-run, UAV-centered company within Israel.

October 2020 - Azerbaijan has been using its fleet of Orbiter surveillance drones in its war against neighboring Armenia. The vehicles are produced locally and currently number 10 units.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Aeronautics Group Orbiter 2 Multi-Role Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
1 x Electric drive powering a two-bladed propeller unit at the rear of the fuselage in pusher arrangement.
81 mph
130 kph | 70 kts
Max Speed
9,843 ft
3,000 m | 2 miles
Service Ceiling
62 miles
100 km | 54 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Aeronautics Group Orbiter 2 Multi-Role Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
9.8 ft
(3.00 m)
O/A Width
11 lb
(5 kg)
Empty Weight
22 lb
(10 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Aeronautics Group Orbiter (series) Multi-Role Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) .
None. Orbiter 2/II payload up to 1.5 kilograms consisting of mission equipment related to the ISR role.
Notable series variants as part of the Aeronautics Group Orbiter (series) family line.
Orbiter - Base Series Name.
Orbiter 2 - Mini-UAS solution.
Orbiter 3 - Small Tactical UAV (STUAV).
Orbiter 4 - Special-mission variant.
Orbiter 1K "Kingfisher" - Model of 2015; expendable munition model with 4.4lb explosive payload.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Aeronautics Group Orbiter (series). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 300 Units

Contractor(s): Aeronautics Group - Israel / Azerbaijan
National flag of Azerbaijan National flag of Croatia National flag of Finland National flag of Indonesia National flag of Ireland National flag of Israel National flag of Mexico National flag of Peru National flag of Poland National flag of Serbia National flag of South Africa National flag of Spain National flag of Thailand National flag of Turkmenistan National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States

[ Azerbaijan; Croatia; Finland; Indonesia; Ireland; Israel; Mexico; Peru; Poland; Serbia; South Africa; Spain; Thailand; Turkmenistan; United States; United Kingdom ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (81mph).

Graph Average of 75 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Aeronautics Group Orbiter (series)
Image released to the Public Domain by Wikipedia user Alexmitt; Serbian Army UAS displayed.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Aeronautics Group Orbiter (series) Multi-Role Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) appears in the following collections:
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