Last week, Israel Aircraft Industries unveiled its new UAV aircraft dubbed the “Ghost” at an electronics conference in Washington D.C.  IAI finished the prototype earlier this year and expects to begin production in the near future.

The new aircraft is a small sized helicopter modeled on the popular Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter in service in militaries around the world.  The UAV weighs 9 lbs, is 5 feet long and has a 2.5 foot wide rotor span.  It can also be fitted with lightweight sensors and cameras.  The aircraft, being a helicopter, uses a vertical takeoff and landing system that also allows it to hover for around 30 minutes.  The twin rotary engines on the plane are electric which allows the UAV to be completely silent avoid detection by opposing forces.

According to IAI, the UAV can be controlled much like a radio controlled aircraft and only requires two soldiers for its operation via a laptop.  CEO Itzhak Nissan said that the Ghost is supposed to be a support for ground forces in the midst of an operation and demonstrates IAI’s experience building such aircraft.  IAI also said that the UAV is ideal for urban warfare, considering its short range of 2.5 miles and low speed of 37 miles per hour.

The main advantage the Ghost has is its small size, which would allow it conduct reconnaissance by flying directly into occupied via windows and deliver real time information about where targets are located.  However, because the plane has almost no acoustic signature and can hover, it could also potentially track larger aircraft as well as follow terrorists to their hideouts, something Israel has practical use for when to trying to track terrorists who attack its citizens.

The Ghost is second helicopter drone that IAI has produced.  The larger Panther drone is a similar aircraft that weighs 138 pounds and has 25 foot wingspan.   That UAV can also be carried by a single soldier, although it typically is used in conjunction with military intelligence locations rather than infantry.  That aircraft was also displayed this past week at the same conference.