Meet Israel’s New MAGNI Micro-Drone: A Game Changer?

Seth J. Frantzman

Elbit Systems in Israel unveiled its MAGNI, a micro unmanned aerial system, that weighs 2.5 kg and is a multi-rotor VTOL so it can be launched from a vehicle and give platoons or squads situational awareness. “We wanted to give infantry a tactical eye-in-the-sky,” says Erez Meir of Elbit’s Multi-Rotor business unit. It is a “revolution” for armed soldiers and their vehicles operating in convoys for instance, which will now have the ability to launch numerous micro-drones to conduct surveillance day or night. 

MAGNI is the smallest of five drones that are made by Flying Production in Rosh HaAyin Israel. Elbit, one of Israel’s largest defense companies, acquired Flying Production earlier this year. Designers got to the MAGNI after producing a slightly larger small drone called THOR that has a range of 10 km and weighs 10 kg. Militaries have been consuming drones at a rapid pace in the last few years as technology outpaces what defense companies have been able to provide. That means commercial drones, like DJI quadcopter UAVs were being used by the U.S. Air Force and other branches. This is despite the concerns about security that come along with Chinese-made commercial drones.

Meir says that the new MAGNI fits into a line of Elbit drones using similar software and compatibility with a battle management system. Recently Elbit sold more than one thousand of the THOR UAVs to a southeast Asian country. So many UAVs speak to the fact that countries doing counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency efforts can equip soldiers down to the smallest unit with micro-UAVs or launch them from vehicles to provide a company or platoon with all its surveillance or ISR needs. “It’s the future of maneuver,” says Meir. The design makes the UAV easy to carry and it can provide 360-degree views.

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