A car-sized vertical take-off aircraft known as the AirMule, recently completed its first full untethered test flight at Megiddo in Northern Israel. This versatile aircraft can drop supplies for troops and rescue wounded soldiers and is being developed by an Israeli company known as Urban Aeronautics Unit Tactical Robotics Ltd.
Rafi Yoeli,CEO of Urban Aeronautics recently stated that
"All in all, we expect that in 2016 we will finally be able to demonstrate some of AirMule's unique capabilities. With close to 200 flights on the AirMule prototype we are confident that this capability can be fielded in just a few years."
It has taken the company less than three years to develop the AirMule prototype this despite a major setback in 2015 when the plane was damaged during what the company describes as a "ground incident." The damaged incurred during this incident putt back development by two months and during this time the company installed new safety features and equipment.
Due to its outstanding accomplishments Urban Aeronautics, in addition to convincing Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority to approve untethered flights, has also been awarded a 'category 2' certification for an export version of the aircraft known as 'Cormorant', under the international Missile Technology Control Regime (MCTR). This is recognition by an international standard which will most likely be crucial in the eventual marketing of the aircraft.
The testing schedule in Megiddo in the coming months includes plans for a demonstration of the AirMule's cargo delivery capability as well as a 'beyond the line of sight' flight along a path running through an adjacent, forested area.
The AirMule’s size and ability to take off and land vertically gives it an upper hand in reaching locations that are inaccessible to helicopters and other aircrafts. In addition to its many advantages the AirMule can also be flown independently or by remote control. It weighs about a ton and can travel at speeds of up to 115 mph at altitudes of 18,000 feet. It is designed to carry 1,000 pounds for 30 miles, which means it could transport 13,000 pounds in a full day.
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