Rotem Alpha is an antitank vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), tactical loitering munition. Credit: IAI.
Rotem Alpha can be launched and landed in challenging terrains. Credit: IAI.
The Rotem drone can detect and autonomously launch attacks against enemy targets. Credit: IAI.
A single operator can control the Rotem Alpha through a ground control system. Credit: IAI.

Rotem Alpha is an antitank vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), tactical loitering munition (LM) developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a provider of military and commercial aerospace and defence systems.

Rotem is part of IAI’s family of loitering munitions which includes Harpy, Harop, Mini-Harpy and Rotem L. It was first introduced at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) in London, UK in September 2023.

IAI secured two contracts worth a total of $145m from two countries for the supply of long-range loitering munitions in November 2023.

IAI also signed individual contracts with three more North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries in June 2023 to provide Rotem loitering munitions, following Estonia’s purchase of long-range loitering munitions.

Rotem Alpha VTOL drone design and features

The Rotem Alpha VTOL is built upon a light multi-rotor drone platform and has a range of tens of kilometres. It has a flight endurance of up to one hour, a typical altitude of 800ft, a take-off weight of 25kg and an endurance of 24 hours in perch mode.

The drone is equipped with a shaped charge and shrapnel warhead capable of penetrating more than 600mm of rolled homogeneous steel and features a multi-sensor electro-optical/infrared seeker.

The Rotem Alpha can be rapidly prepared for flight and deployed from a backpack or set up from a vehicle in less than two minutes. It excels in manoeuvring at low altitudes even in challenging weather conditions, gathering crucial battlefield intelligence before executing its attack.

The drone is cost-effective and can be easily transported by foot or vehicle.

Rotem Alpha control and operations

A single operator can control the Rotem Alpha via a ground control system, which can instruct it to perch on a building or hill, maintaining a vigilant stance until the enemy emerges. The operator can swiftly execute a surprise ambush, catching the enemy off guard.

The Rotem Alpha’s sensor suite functions independently to identify and precisely locate hostile enemy fire, including artillery, rockets and missile launchers. Upon detection, it autonomously investigates and launches a direct assault, utilising its electro-optical day and night seeker.

Rotem Alpha VTOL drone capabilities

Rotem serves as a force multiplier for tactical units across various combat scenarios, including security operations and military manoeuvres from land, coastlines and naval vessels. It can deal with low-signature enemies in urban and complex environments.

The drone can be launched and landed in challenging terrains, including trees and structures. It is specifically tailored to meet the demands of modern battlefields, with the ability to neutralise tank-grade and other armoured targets effectively.

Rotem can acquire and engage targets with a man-in-the-loop and is designated for tactical echelon operations. It can execute intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and attack missions at the squad level with minimal need for planning and direct attention from the operator.

In addition, the Rotem Alpha VTOL can hover stationary over a designated area in mid-air, conduct scans to locate the target and remain poised to initiate an attack upon receiving the operator’s command.

It is the only combat-proven recoverable loitering munition and can be effectively recovered if no target is selected or the operator chooses to abort.