Israeli firm unveils new attack drone that can land back in soldier’s hand

State-owned IAI says it has been awarded multi-million-dollar contract to develop variant of Point Blank loitering munition for US Department of Defense

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries arms firm on Thursday unveiled a new small hand-launched loitering missile, or attack drone, that can land back in a soldier’s hand without exploding, the company said.

The announcement came as IAI had been awarded a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract with the United States Department of Defense to develop a version of the missile for the American market.

The device, dubbed Point Blank, is a small electro-optically guided missile that can be carried in a soldier’s backpack. It can be launched and operated by a single soldier.

Loitering munitions are also known as “suicide drones” or “kamikaze drones.”

In a video published by IAI (above), the device is seen being launched by a person, before it flies across the sky into a van that was placed as a target.

According to IAI, the device weighs about 6.8 kilograms (15 pounds) and is about 90 centimeters (3 feet) long. It can fly at altitudes above 460 meters (1,500 feet), at a maximum speed of 286 kilometers per hour (178 mph), and can hover in the air while the operator confirms a target’s nature and exact position.

The device includes electro-optical systems to validate and collect surveillance information in real-time, as well as a warhead in order to destroy a target, it said.

If the operator decides not to attack, the device can be flown back and land in their hand safely, according to IAI.

“The system answers the battlefield requirement to provide tactical units ranging in size from small tactical teams to battalion level, with an independent and organic capability to increase their lethality,” IAI said in a statement.

The Point Blank variant being developed for the US Department of Defense is dubbed ROC-X, and first prototypes and training would be provided in the coming fiscal year, the company said.

IAI develops and manufactures advanced systems for air, space, sea, land, cyber and homeland security. Since 1953, the company has provided technology solutions to government and commercial customers worldwide, including satellites, missiles, weapon systems and munitions, unmanned and robotic systems, and radar.

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