An "Orbiter 2" unmanned aerial vehiclePhoto by: UAV
Switzerland's armed forces currently have around a dozen Ranger drones manufactured by national armaments firms RUAG in their arsenal. These have a wingspan of just under six metres and are set to be replaced by Israeli Hermes drones which are double the size.
Now, however, Switzerland is looking to spend around 8 million francs on drones the size of model aeroplanes.
These are intended for smaller units in the field which generally don’t have access to larger drones or Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma helicopters.
Among the candidates being looked at by the army are the Orbiter 2 drones manufactured by Israeli firm Aeronautics: these weigh around 10 kilograms, have a wingspan of some three metres and allow for data transfer over 100 kilometres.
Also in the running are the Fly Eye drones of Polish firm WB electronics.
Both drones have similar specifications and electric motors and both should assist troops to collect image-based information about the situation on the ground in a low-risk manner.
Testing is taking place in the Swiss canton of Valais and will continue until April 29th, according to Zurich daily the Tages Anzeiger.