Israel launches mini drone “Spear” for special operatives

At $2,000 a pop with a 2-5 kilometer flight range, Israeli company Spear’s smallest drone weighs less than 250 grams and can be fired from a grenade launcher

The Defense Ministry is examining the use of miniature drones that can be fired from a grenade launcher. The new technology has recently been developed by Spear, an Israeli startup company.

The IDF, like other armies around the world, has been equipping troops with miniature drones for surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence in recent years. The soldiers equipped with the drones can use them to get a bird’s eye view of the battlefield, or of the goings on beyond a hill or structure, and gather immediate tactical intelligence.

The current drones, however, most of which are provided by the DJI defense industries which works with the army, are not always suitable for the IDF’s needs. They are large and expensive and require a relatively long time to deploy and launch. Civilian drones have, on the other hand, proved too delicate for the battlefield or are in danger of having their data breached.

Spear’s drones may provide a solution to these problems. Packed in capsules, they can be launched immediately, among other things from a grenade launcher.

“In the past only airborne forces had aerial abilities,” says Gadi Kuperman, Spear’s founder and CEO. “Ground forces had to call a UAV for assistance. Today’s solution is an instrument in your car or vest. We took the civilian drones and adapted them to the battlefield.”

Spear developed a number of models for a miniature observation drone, uniquely packed in a rigid capsule the combatants can carry in their vest or vehicle. The capsules are resistant to jolts, vibrations, dust and humidity. 

Also, they can be fired by a grenade launcher or an independent launcher. The combatant can insert the capsule into the launcher, like loading a grenade, and shoot it into the air. After being fired, the capsule opens and the drone immediately unfolds and stabilizes in the air without operator intervention.

A drone developed by Spear Spear / Courtesy

“For drone operators, deployment time is significant. Existing drones must be taken out of the vest, deployed, operated, and rise into the air. By then the target is gone. With this drone, they pull it out and launch, no preparations,” says Boaz Ben Haim, the company’s business development and sales manager.

Ninox, the company’s smallest drone, weighs less than 250 grams and can be incorporated into the soldier’s vest and carried during combat. It is 28 centimeters long, has a 2-5 kilometer flight range, depending on the communication means, and a 40-minute flight time. It flies automatically, but can be controlled by an operator who watches its course on video and can chart a flight route on a map and click on a target.

With another click the drone returns and lands and the combatant can take it back to base, says Ben Haim. However, the same drone cannot be used again until it is repacked and made ready for use.

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