Israel startup APG Aero Systems has completed a $3 million financing round from private investors. The company is promising an aircraft it describes as "innovative, the first in the world of its kind, and a technological, operational, and logistical breakthrough that applies all the lessons learned from the development of other UAVs in the market." APG has 15 employees, half of whom formerly worked at Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) and resigned from that company in recent years, while others are graduates of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Tel Aviv University. Most of them are working on the development of a series of new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and the company says that it is aiming at this saturated market with different types of UAVs. The company plans to come out with a series of aircraft with new capabilities not possessed by existing UAVs.
While the major defense industries mostly regard their UAVs as standard platforms for carrying a variety of special payloads, depending on the needs of the operator, APG is talking about a UAV, to be launched soon, whose different structure will provide it with additional features. "There are things that limit aircraft: helicopters have difficulty staying airborne for a long time, and fixed-wing aircraft need a runway. We will soon present a breakthrough development of a new UAV that will have the best features of each type. Other companies will be unable to imitate this UAV," APG CEO Yair Dubester, a former IAI employee, told "Globes."
Among other things, Dubester, who managed IAI's UAV division, was formerly CEO of Uvision, another small defense company, which develops loitering munitions. He is still a director in this company.
APG promises to unveil its UAV in the coming weeks, after a number of test flights of different variations have been completed. "Our teams have been involved in development programs of UAVs for many years at IAI, from the first Zahavan to IAI's most advanced UAV - the Heron," Dubester says. "The vast experience of former IAI senior executives is now guiding outstanding young graduates of Technion and the universities hired by the company. This is a winning combination."
Dubester is aware that the global markets are saturated with UAVs used for military missions of intelligence gathering, patrolling, observation, and attacking targets, from tactical UAVs powered by electric motors to mini-UAVs and drones. "The development is aimed at the basic needs of every defense entity, as well as those of civilian concerns, and is bringing something truly new to the existing UAV market. Quite a few delegations of various entities in Israel and worldwide were impressed by some of the aircraft's capabilities presented to them," he declares.
APG was founded in 2013 by Eran Gross and CTO Shlomo Tsach, an aeronautics engineer who was involved in aircraft development at IAI for over four decades. The projects he was involved in included the Lavi, which was discontinued in the mid-1980s. Since it was founded, APG has focused on supplying engineering and aeronautical content services to the Ministry of Defense and a series of Israeli aircraft development companies.
The company is now concentrating on advanced UAV products in the defense market, but is also looking at the civilian market , which is growing rapidly. The company's developments include a solar energy-powered UAV designed to provide extensive services, including broadcasting and Internet communications currently carried out through satellites. "We have developed a prototype capable of taking off and landing with solar energy. If we enlarge it into a plane with a 50-meter wingspan covered with solar panels that are already on the market, it can be flown to heights of 60,000-70,000 feet. There are no clouds and there is sun. The aircraft will work all day and charge its batteries in preparation for night work. It will differ in cost from a satellite, and it can be brought back for repairs and maintenance. It can definitely be a poor people's satellite."
"Globes": When will we see it?
Dubester: "A trial flight of the prototype was successful, and we'll soon start building a full-scale aircraft that will be very big."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 21, 2018
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