Elbit and KAI Join Forces for Military UAS Collaboration

 - March 17, 2021, 6:13 AM
Elbit is making its mark in Asia, recently selling Hermes 900 unmanned air systems to an unspecified country. (Photo: Elbit Systems)

Israel’s Elbit Systems and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide unmanned air systems (UAS) for the Korean defense forces. This is the second collaboration that KAI has embarked upon in as many weeks, having previously signed an MOU with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to market and offer loitering munitions for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army.

According to a statement from Elbit, both companies will cooperate to develop next-generation UAS solutions for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions. An Elbit spokesperson subsequently told AIN that the MOU covers the development of a modified system that is based on the legacy systems from both companies. 

Currently, KAI’s only operational UAS is the RQ-101, a 15-foot long platform with an endurance of six hours. The ROK Army has five RQ-101 systems, each with six air vehicles. A 30-foot ‘Next Corps Surveillance UAV’ is under development, with a maximum take-off weight of 3,750 pounds. So far, Elbit’s only presence in the ROK Army inventory is in the form of the Skylark II light UAV. 

In December 2014, Korea selected the IAI Heron 1 for its corps-level UAS program to replace the IAI Searcher II. In early March, Elbit announced the sale of its 2,425-pound Hermes 900 UAS to an unspecified Asia country in a deal worth $300 million, which will be carried out over a period of five years.