IAI recently released details on a new member of its mysterious family of multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the new version dubbed ROTEM L (abbreviation of its Hebrew designation: ‘hovering reconnaissance and attack platform – Light’). Designed as a small, quad-rotor based loitering weapon, ROTEM is uniquely built for operation in urban warfare, offering combatants effective, indirect observation and engagement of targets from an elevated position. IAI is displaying a number of loitering weapons at the Singapore Airshow this week, as well as the HoverMast hovering surveillance system.
The lightweight UAV weighs only 4.5 kg, packing an impressive array of sensors, including day or night (IR) cameras, used for piloting and reconnaissance, additional, multiple acoustic transducer enabling obstacle avoidance and flight through inner spaces of buildings, entering through windows, narrow urban streets or dense vegetation. The battery-powered drone can loiter for nearly 30 minutes, with one pound (0.450 kg) of explosive payload, or trade-off this deadly payload for a camera and more batteries, sustaining up to 40-45 minute in the air. The warhead comprises two blast-fragmentation grenades configured with a dual safe and arm mechanism. The ROTEM is packed folded in a carried in a canister or backpack and is assembled in seconds by a single soldier.
ROTEM is operated by a single soldier using simple point and click commands on a tablet controller. The vehicle takes off vertically, and ascends toward the area of interest, where the operator can scan and observe the area using its forward looking slanted camera. From a distance of few hundreds of meters ROTEM is practically inaudible and can loiter silently for the entire mission. When a target is located and verified the operator can switch to attack mode, the drone responds and quickly accelerates to a high speed dive, closing in on its prey, with the target maintained in view throughout the flight, enabling the manned operator to monitor the attack and abort anytime if necessary. Using on-board sensors, ROTEM effectively avoids obstacles, enter windows at low or high levels, or maneuver around fences. The operator directs the ROTEM to its target – horizontally, vertically or slanted as necessary. ROTEM and Green Dragon both shares a common, modern tablet controller, allowing for simplified cross training and operation.
Unlike other loitering weapons, ROTEM is not necessarily expendable once launched. If the operator does not have the opportunity to engage or aborts the mission and decides to retrieve the drone, ROTEM is instructed to land at a safe location, it’s safe status clearly visible with warhead disarmed.