September 27, 2010: An Israeli firm (IAI) recently revealed that it had developed a tilt rotor UAV. Named the Panther, the UAV has two electric props. The engines swivel for takeoff and landing, as well as for hovering. IAI plans to offer a range of models, with wingspans of from 2 meters (6.2 feet) to 8 meters (25 feet). The working prototype has six meter (18.6 feet) wings and fuel cells that give it an endurance of six hours. This model has an eight kilogram (17.6 pound) payload that can carry day/night vidcams and a laser designator.
The electric motors mean that the UAV is very quiet, an important consideration if the UAV is hovering at low altitude to keep an eye on something. This is important for use in urban areas, where a hovering UAV can view things concealed from a high flying UAV. The tilt rotor capability eliminates any difficulties in takeoff and landing, and makes this UAV ideal for operating off warships.
No details yet on availability or pricing. IAI kept this project secret until they were certain the design would work. Now that the Panther has passed these tests, the marketing has apparently begun. The Panther will probably be up to a third more expensive than similar UAVs not equipped with the tilt rotor capability.