04 Feb Hankuk Carbon and IAI will develop the next generation of VTOL UAVs
February 1, 2016 – Hankuk Carbon (HC), a Korean composite manufacturer, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have signed an MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) to establish a joint venture to develop, manufacture, and sell vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial systems (UASs).
The companies will co-develop and co-manufacture the FE-Panther, the next generation VTOL UAS. The joint venture will begin by developing VTOL UAS with maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) between 440 and 660 lbs. The next generation VTOL UAS will be developed to meet the Korean customer’s needs and will target 90% Korean domestic content. Previously, Hankuk Carbon and IAI co-developed the hybrid propulsion system for a VTOL UAS funded by the KORIL Foundation (Korea-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation).
HC and IAI are considering adding shipborne take-off and landing capability to the FE-Panther. This activity will be completed by the end of 2018. The potential market for VTOL naval UASs is approximately $4.3 billion over the next 10 years.
Hankuk Carbon’s CEO, Moonsoo Cho, said: “Hankuk Carbon has been interested in entering the aerospace industry for long period. Considering the aerospace industry has approximately 5% growth annually and the LNG industry is in a downturn, we believe this is the optimal timing to enter the aerospace market”.
Shaul Shahar, executive vice-president of IAI, said: “We see the upcoming joint venture as a great opportunity for both companies to expand their business. We are looking forward to working with Hankuk Carbon – a well-established Korean company. Hankuk Carbon’s composite material production capability coupled with IAI’s 40 years of experience and know-how of UASs, means the joint venture has the potential to become a leading VTOL UAS company and provide the best solution to customers in Korea and worldwide”.
In October 2015, Hankuk Carbon displayed the 148 lbs. Hybrid VTOL UAS, FE-Panther for the first time. It is powered by lithium polymer batteries and an internal combustion engine and has an endurance of 8 hours with 13 lbs. of payload. FE-Panther has a maximum radius of 80 miles and a maximum speed of 70 knots. The FE-Panther UAS has automatic VTOL capability and is easy to maintain.