At first sight it looks like a toy model of a Chinook helicopter, the twin-engine, tandem-rotor helicopter used by the US Army. It is, however something completely different.

Called the “Ghost,” this aircraft is Israel Aerospace Industries’s latest unmanned aerial vehicle, unveiled on Tuesday during a visit Defense Minister Ehud Barak made to the Israeli defense giant.

Barak praised the quality of IAI’s products and said the company was making a significant contribution to the nation’s standing around the world as a leader in the development of military platforms.

IAI Chairman Yair Shamir and CEO Itzhak Nissan gave Barak a tour of the facility and presented some of the company’s new inventions. One platform that they unveiled especially for Barak was the “Ghost,” a new tilt-rotor UAV that has the ability to land and take off vertically.

A tilt-rotor aircraft uses a pair or more of powered rotors mounted on rotating shafts at the end of a fixed wing for lift and propulsion, and combines the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixedwing aircraft.

The new UAV was developed by IAI’s Malat Division, which has manufactured the company’s long list of drones including the Heron TP, a squadron of which was declared operational by the Israel Air Force in February.

The Ghost weighs just 4 kilograms and is intended for reconnaissance missions in urban settings. It has a quiet propulsion system, a range of about 4 kilometers and the ability to fly at speeds up to 35 knots.

Barak said that Israel needed to retain its military superiority to ensure its continued survival.

“These are major changes that will impact the Middle East for years to come,” Barak said, referring to the upheaval in the Arab world. “Our security is in our hands and we need to retain military superiority, readiness and a high level of alert, as well as our special relationship with the United States.”

The Ghost is the second tilt-rotor UAV to be developed by IAI. In October, the Malat Division unveiled the Panther, which can also take off and land vertically.

Larger than the Ghost, the Panther has a take-off weight of about 60 kg. and the ability to remain airborne for about 6 hours with a variety of payloads. It has a wingspan of 8 meters.

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