General Dynamics [GD] and Israel’s Elbit Systems‘ [ESLT] are hoping their Skylark II Long Endurance (LE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will capture the contract for the joint Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS Tier II program.

The gas-powered UAV can operate for more than 17 hours and carry a 65-pound payload. The system has several launch and recovery systems. A shipboard launch and recovery system is currently undergoing sea trials in the eastern Mediterranean. A land-based trial is underway in Vermont, Rob Bryars , senior manager business development unmanned aerial systems, told sister publication Defense Daily Tuesday.

Elbit Systems Electro-optics-Elop Ltd. (ELOP) makes the payloads for Skylark II LE.

Bryars noted that the companies, known as Team UAS Dynamics, are also looking to conduct a demonstration of their Skylark I LE for the Marine Corps sometime this month.

Skylark I LE is a 12-pound UAV with a range of 20 kilometers and three hours endurance. The vehicle has a gimbled payload.

Maybe the most unique aspect to Skylark I LE is the “fly by camera” operation.

“It’s easier to track moving targets,” Bryars said.

The technology enables an operator to fly the air vehicle from the perspective of a camera mounted on the platform.

Team US Dynamics will begin training with the Army at Ft. Benning, Ga., in mid October, Bryars added.

Skylark I LE will be used during the Army’s Air Assault Expeditionary Force live experiment, he added.

The entire Skylark I LE systems weighs under 85 pounds and can be carried by a soldier. However, Bryars noted the system is designed to be deployed from the back of a Humvee.

Skylark I LE uses a deep stall air bag for recovery. As the UAV stalls in mid air, an airbag is deployed from the underbelly to cushion the vehicle as it crash lands. The airbag can be quickly rolled back up and inserted back into the platform and re-deployed.

Skylark I LE can be both hand-launched and launched from a rail. The ground control station, made by Elbit, controls three air vehicles.

Bryars said Elbit is looking to transition production of the ground control station to General Dynamics.

The system has been deployed with Australian forces in Afghanistan and, most recently, French special forces acquired some, he added.