Israel’s Elbit Systems sells $153M worth of mini-drones to unnamed country

Oct. 11 (UPI) — Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems announced the sale of over 1,000 THOR mini-drones to an unnamed Southeast Asian country in a $ 153 million deal.

The contract for the unmanned aircraft systems, including other unmanned aircraft manufactured by the company, will be executed over a 22-month period, Elbit said earlier this week.

The contract calls for THOR multirotor vertical-takeoff-and-landing mini-drones, as well as larger Skylark LEX, Skylark 3 and Hermes 450 tactical models and ground control stations.

The drones are light and small, and suited for reconnaissance missions. At nine pounds, it can carry a 1.5-pound payload, typically a camera, to an altitude of 2,000 feet. It features a 4-mile range and can stay aloft for up to 55 minutes. The Israel Defense Force uses the aircraft extensively on its northern border with Lebanon.

“This contract award underlines our competitive edge as armies increasingly view multi-layered UAS [unmanned aerial systems] solutions as key to providing superior intelligence and maintaining a high level of operational flexibility,” said the Bezhalel Machil, Elbit president.

While the receiving country was not named, Asia is a burgeoning market for the aircraft. Israel is a leading developer of unmanned aerial vehicles, once selling up to $ 500 million per year, a figure reduced in recent years by competition from China. The Philippines reportedly were nearing a deal with Elbit worth $ 180 million in the summer.

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