LE BOURGET, France — Elbit Systems is presenting at the Paris Air Show its newest variant of the Skylark series of UAVs, essentially a converted drone engineered to function as a missile.

Dubbed the SkyStriker, the vehicle can carry a warhead weighing up to 10 kilograms. During its maximum loitering time of two hours, operators can program the drone to circle over an area — either very low to the ground or hiding in cloud cover — and dive upon a target after positive identification through the video feed.

Because its engine is electric, the presence of the drone overhead is not audible, a company executive, who declined to be named in discussing the weapon, told Defense News.

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The official emphasized the drone's ease of operation while walking a reporter through the features of a model version hanging in the company's exhibit pavilion here. Training an operator takes less than one month, according to the official.

"It is really just dragging and dropping an icon on the screen," he said, referring to the process of marking a target for death.

While hitting moving targets, the drone will use its electro-optical sensor to automatically conclude the final few seconds of flight before impact.

As one of the unique features of the weapon, the company notes the possibility to abort missions and initiate an automatic retrieval sequence. The drone carries a parachute and a cushion that can guide it gently back to Earth, the official explained.

The SkyStriker is launched via an automatic pneumatic launch platform that can be supplied to deployed forces.

"SkyStriker is a force multiplier for the units in the field allowing them to perform precise missions without putting them in harm's way," Elad Aharonson, general manager of Elbit Systems' ISTAR division, said in a company statement.

As for costs, the first executive would only say one copy comes in at "less than 1 million" dollars, but the exact price would depend on quantities ordered.

SkyStriker is already in serial production, and there are "orders in place," though the company wouldn't say who is buying the weapon.

Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.

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