SpearUAV's compact tactical drone loiters with intent

SpearUAV's tactical drone credit: SpearUAV
SpearUAV's tactical drone credit: SpearUAV

The Tel Aviv-based company's drone is launched from a unique encapsulated system from tanks, APC's and submarines for assault and surveillance missions.

Israel's current war has provided an opportunity for early-stage military technology companies to prove their products on the battlefield. One such outstanding example has been loitering munitions and tactical drone Tel Aviv-based startup SpearUAV.

The company was founded in 2017 in a garage by CEO Gadi Kuperman and today has more than 50 employees. The uniqueness of the company's tactical drone and loitering munitions is its compactness and encapsulated launching system. SpearUAV's products are currently launched from platforms like tanks, and armored personnel carriers, or by ground troops but at the outset the munitions were used by submarines. The company initially developed an encapsulated weapons system for a submarine in the depths of the sea that floated on the sea's surface to be launched on command. The system enables the submarine to remain concealed, with the UAV adding a new dimension of intelligence and offensive capabilities.

"Spear has the anchor products to become a big company"

The result is that today Israel's naval, land and armored forces use the tactical drones made by SpearUAV, whose encapsulated system is protected by several patents. A significant expression of confidence in the company's product came even before the war with the appointment of former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to the company's advisory committee, where he sits alongside the former IDF Land Forces commander, Gen. Kobi Barak. In addition, last year the company made changes in its management by bringing in experienced figures from the defense industries.

One of the best known is Col. (res) Yiftach Kleinman, who was appointed deputy CEO and EVP commercial, after serving as the Deputy Head of Rafael's Land and Sea Division. Kleinman was considered one of the figures most identified with the Trophy active defense system for tanks and armored personnel carriers, which has proven itself well in protecting against the RPG missiles that Hamas has launched during the war.

"At the age of 50, I wondered if I should take small companies and help them become big," Kleinman tells Globes. "While there are many startups, Spear has the anchor products to become a large company." Another well-known figure who joined Spear's management is Eitan Shabtay who was an EVP at Tat Technologies.

SpearUAV specializes in the production of armed systems ranging from the level of the individual soldier to battalion level. This makes it unique, because the majority of the players in the world concentrate on loitering munitions and surveillance means of that stress division level and above. The Ministry of Defense's directorate of defense R&D (DDR&D) quickly recognized the advantages of Spear, and has made sure that it has been used in the field.

AI-based offensive capabilities The company's focus on forces in the heart of combat means the Tel Aviv startup's product has extremely minimal requirements on the part of operators. It takes a combat soldier less than a minute to launch the product, which immediately becomes almost completely autonomous. The Viper 40, 300 and 750 tactical drones (named after their weight in grams), can identify targets and decide to attack, or can be used for surveillance. The operator's involvement is to decide when to bring the system back to its launch position, and moving the UAV from point A to point B by a click on the screen, or deciding to cancel an attack.

This Viper's autonomy typifies a broad trend across the board in the defense industry: AI is already here, and the only question that remains is how much it will expand and improve in the future. AI is reflected in Spear's tools, for example, not only in its ability to identify targets but also in being able to work collaboratively. The tactical drones can locate targets, perform surveillance, and convey targets to Vipers that detonate on the target.

At the same time, the system can transfer targets to other platforms like tank guns, Rafael's Spike anti-tank missiles, or Elbit Systems advanced mortar shells, like the Iron Sting laser and GPS guided mortar munition, which unlike regular mortar shells that relied on statistical success, it precise within meters. Unlike advanced anti-tank missiles, there is no electro-optical imaging, but a target is inserted - and it hits, similar to a laser-targeting weapon. An attack based on AI increases efficiency not only in independence, which greatly facilitates the operator and the training process, but also in lethality. If in the past one fighter would operate one aircraft that eliminated one terrorist, now attack capabilities have expanded and allow attacking many targets simultaneously.

Effectiveness is not only expressed in its deadliness. Spear has developed an additional system called the MCL Viper. This is a launch system that can be installed on mobile devices and operated remotely. One of the illustrations of the importance of this system are tanks or APCs on which an MCL is installed from the outside. This saves a lot of space that is missing inside the tanks and APCs, maintains the protection of the operating team since it remains closed inside the vessels, while it launches the munitions from the device that is installed on the outside of the tanks and the APCs.

MCL Viper's launch method is a reality-changing solution for these tools. When the combat soldier launches a Viper from inside the tank or APC, they are both protected and allow higher lethality for the operators.

In sales overseas the Viper does not necessarily come with warheads that can be supplied by the customer. The company's sales-point is its advanced technology and encapsulated launch system, which is compact compared with its rivals. As part of the open architecture of the Vipers, Spear allows foreign customers to contract with local partners in order to provide components for the drones if necessary, thus both avoiding shortages and increasing foreign interest in deals.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 24, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

SpearUAV's tactical drone credit: SpearUAV
SpearUAV's tactical drone credit: SpearUAV
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