Israeli defense technology company Elbit has successfully tested an interesting new Forward Ground Control Station (FGCS) for its Skylark I LE man-packable Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). The lightweight FCGS is 15 kg (33 lbs) lighter than the existing Skylark ground control system and is designed to enable dismounted soldiers to carry minimum gear for optimal operational efficiency, as the UAS can be launched by Dispatcher Units well to the rear, transferring control of the operation to the FGCS-equipped Forward Units when the UAS reaches their range.
The FGCS is a logical answer to modern battlefield needs for interoperability and SWAP (Size Weight and Power), enabling infantry forces to execute more complex missions in diverse arenas while offering enhanced operational flexibility.
The FGCS is comprised of four main components (not counting the unmanned craft itself), all of which are geared on the soldier's vest: FGCS computer (PDU), tactical hand-held display, operator stick and an active Skylark Rambo transducer that fits as an additional radio into the soldier's vest. For covert operations, an eyepiece can be used instead of the hand-held display.
Skylark I LE is an enhancement of Skylark I and is a high performance mini/man-pack UAS, ideal for lower echelons self-support reconnaissance close-range beyond-the-next-hill missions. The system features exceptionally quiet propulsion, highly autonomous flight and outstanding day or night observation capabilities, providing high quality of operation and orientation skills. Skylark I LE is operational with the Israeli Defense Forces as the Ground Forces' battalion-level UAS. Skylark I and I LE are also operational with Australia, France and other armed forces in several NATO and other countries, some of which have operated the UAS successfully in various war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
Geared for the unit level and individual soldier, Dominator enables forces to dominate the field by empowering infantry units with full situational awareness through networking into integrated information systems. Dominator incorporates Elbit Systems' C4I software solutions for the infantry user (C4I SW), based on C4I infrastructures for tactical forces. Outfitted with the Dominator, land warriors can send and receive information in real time, view an up-to-the-minute Common Operational Picture on personal displays, as well as live video from either external or on-body sensors, and transmit images and positions back to the command post and colleagues.
Interestingly, the Skylark was also the first hydrogen fuel-cell-powered UAS.