The IDF Ground Forces Commander Major General Kobi Barak on Monday decided to ground its entire Skylark UAV force, after two aircraft had crashed over Hebron and Bethlehem in Judea and Samaria. The IDF is examining the crashes and has released a statement saying no data from the fallen UAVs has been compromised.
The Elbit Skylark I and Skylark II are Miniature UAVs for tactical surveillance and reconnaissance. The Skylark is launched by hand with a payload consists of a daylight CCD or optional FLIR for night operations. During operation, it sends real-time video to a portable ground station – but does not store information. Recovery involves a deep stall maneuver, landing on a small inflatable cushion. It has a range of 13 to 26 Miles.
Last July an unmanned Skylark UAV crashed in the Shechem area and was returned by the PA through the IDF Civil Administration. In Mars a Skylark fell inside the Gaza Strip and in January inside Hezbollah territory in south Lebanon.
According to the IDF, the Skylark has undergone repairs after those earlier failures.
Walla quoted reserves officers in the Artillery Corps who suggested the sudden rise in the small UAVs is the result of a lack of sufficient training and the retiring of an old crew of drone operators without a chance to initiate the new crew. The problems are, therefore, not mechanical, but organizational.