THOR multi-rotor mini unmanned aircraft system is offered by Elbit Systems. Image courtesy of Elbit Systems Ltd.
The mini UAS completed a series of environmental qualification tests in August 2020. Image courtesy of Elbit Systems Ltd.
The maximum speed of the unmanned aerial vehicle is 65km/h. Image courtesy of Elbit Systems Ltd.
Elbit Systems signed a $153m deal for delivering 1,000 THOR VTOL aircraft to a Southeast Asian army. Image courtesy of Elbit Systems Ltd.

THOR is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) mini unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed by Elbit Systems, a global defence electronics company based in Israel.

The multi-rotor drone will be deployed in surveillance and reconnaissance missions over land and at sea.

The VTOL unmanned aircraft is suitable for performing operations in urban environments with non-line of sight communication or over complex terrain due to its automatic take-off and landing. It also has the capability of performing autonomous missions.

THOR VTOL UAS development

The THOR mini UAS was originally developed by Flying Production, which was acquired by Elbit Systems in March 2019.

Elbit Systems introduced the new multi-rotor UAS family comprising various VTOL man-portable platforms including THOR UAS in June 2017. The company showcased THOR mini UAS at Milipol Paris 2017 exhibition held at Paris-Nord Villepinte, in November 2017.

Elbit Systems received a $153m contract from a Southeast Asian army for the supply of more than 1,000 THOR VTOL aircraft systems, in October 2019. The aircraft are expected to be delivered over 22 months.

The UAS met all the requirements of MIL-STD-810 during a series of environmental qualification tests conducted in August 2020.

The tests evaluated the effectiveness of the UAS under various conditions including its operability in temperatures ranging between -40ºC and 65ºC. The UAS survived hard gusting rain and rough vibrations, as well as resisted penetration and damage from blowing sand and dust during the tests.

THOR VTOL mini UAS design and features

Featuring a quad-rotor design, the THOR mini UAS weighs 9.5kg without payload and offers a low acoustic signature. Being a fully foldable platform, it can be carried in a bag and can be easily deployed in different weather and terrain conditions.

It can carry a maximum payload of 3kg and offers 360° view to the operators when carrying out missions. It features a real-time HD data link and unique control software.

The mini UAS can also be installed with man-machine interface, avionics and flight control system.

The operator can monitor the UAS’s HD imaging payload and obtain a clearer view over the hills or into buildings through real-time datalink.

THOR mini UAS applications

The THOR mini drone can support military and paramilitary operations, special forces operations, border patrol, urban operations, pre-operation terrain, and low-altitude observations.

It can also be used for other missions such as hostage situations, battle damage assessment (BDA), law enforcement as well as search-and-rescue (SAR).

The unmanned vehicle has the ability to operate in specific operational modes such as convoy mode which simplifies operations on the move. It is suitable for operations during both day and night.

Ground control station

The mini UAS is controlled using a universal ground control station named ASTRONOMY. It follows a programmed flight pattern and can be assisted by advanced real-time navigation modes.

THOR VTOL mini UAS propulsion and performance

The THOR mini UAS is powered by electric propulsion ensuring an operational speed of 40km/h and a maximum speed of 65km/h.

It offers a maximum range of 10km and can endure for up to 75 minutes when installed with dual electro-optical (EO)/infrared (IR) light-weight payload.

The flight ceiling of the UAS is up to 2,000ft, while its maximum operational altitude above sea-level is 12,000ft.