U.S. Special Ops Units To Test “X-Wing” Loitering Munition Made By Israelis


IAI Pointblank

The use of drones has become essential in our lives and its importance in more obvious in the battlefield. At the ongoing Russo-Ukranian War, drones made for military, commercial, and hobby use have proven themselves useful at all levels of the military branches involved in the conflict.

For those at the frontlines, the use of drones can be lifesaving as they drones they launch are lifesaving and mission critical. Without waiting for air support hand-launched drones can do quick reconnaissance, help coordinate tactical actions and even attack advancing enemy units as kamikaze drones. When time is of the essence drones can be a factor in winning a battle.

The Switchblade drones in use in Ukraine are an examples of drones used in tactical situations that do both --- search and destroy. Another drone that may even be more capable will get tested by U.S. Special Operators according to Warzone. It is the X-Wing style Point Blank Loitering Munition made by the Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI).

The Point Blank is a hand launched VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) drone that looks like the famous Rebel X-Wing starfighter in “Star Wars”. As a precision strike missile, it can attack enemy vehicles, ammunition dumps, and troop concentrations to disrupt their operations. It has a 2kg warhead and a flight endurance of 18 minutes. 

While in flight on its way to is objective, the drone operator can abort any planned attack especially to avoid collateral damage and it will do automatic return and landing. It is also stealthy enemy for having a low sound and thermal signature that it is too late for the target to react when it gets detected. 

The U.S. DOD has awarded IAI a multi-million-dollar contract to develop the Point Blank for use by Special Operators:

IAI, as prime contractor, has been competitively awarded a multi-million-dollar contract by the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD) of the US Department of Defense (DoD) to rapidly develop and deliver “ROC-X” a version of the POINT BLANK system that meets specific US DoD requirements for the purpose of increasing the organic precision strike lethality and survivability of small tactical teams. IAI will provide the first prototypes and training to DoD for Operational Testing & Evaluation in FY 23.

POINT BLANK weighs about 15 lbs and is about 3 ft long. The missile can fly at altitudes above 1,500 ft, at a maximum speed of 178 mph (186 kph) and can hover or loiter in the air while the target’s nature and exact position is confirmed prior to attack. Thanks to IAI’s advanced manufacturing technologies, the missile can carry electro-optical systems to validate and collect surveillance information in real time, and it is also being developed to be equipped with a warhead to destroy the target.

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Israel is a leader in terms of loitering and drones with its innovations already making a difference in the field such as the Harpy drone (or Harop) that is also made by IAI. It is a bigger drone with a maximum range of 1,000km and clients such as Turkey and Azerbaijan were able to utilize the drone against enemies with devastating effect.

We’ll see more of the Point Blank and similar drones in the field as they become even more integrated to operational units down to the individual soldier. For soldiers in the field, the absence of planes and helicopters does not mean they won’t be attacked from the air, small and nimble drones can just be hovering in the air ready to pounce.

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