Scaled did not design this Hunter derivative, but enabled it to soar to new heights...



The Limbach 550-E engine, which powers the Searcher.


Type: close-range surveillance and targeting UAV



Powerplant: 1 x 35 kW (47 hp) Limbach L550-E piston engine

Significant date: 1988

Also known as the Chugla (Pheasant), the IAI-Malat Searcher is an intelligence mini-UAV developed under the WIMPY (wing improvement) program as a long-wing version of the Pioneer RPV to double its endurance. The Searcher looks almost identical to the Scout, Hunter and Pioneer drones, but is scaled up, and in fact is well over twice the size of the Scout. It is powered by a 35 kW (47 horsepower) Limbach L550, a flat, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder, two-stroke piston engine. It not only features updated avionics and sensor systems as well as greater endurance, but increased redundancy to improve survivability. Although it is still shrouded in secrecy, Scaled Composites' involvement in the program was mentioned by two separate sources, one being former Scaled program manager Dave Boldenow at a 2001 EAA forum, and especially on Burt Rutan's curriculum as released by Royce Carlton Incorporated.

Soon after the prototype was introduced, the tactical UAV was able to carry a heavy (140-pound) payload for more than 24 hours as a result of a breakthrough in UAV wing design by adding Fowler flaps to increase lift. The Searcher began its service life in 1992, and has since had a regular role in routine security operations in Lebanon. It serves to locate terrorist targets and aids IAF planes while they carry out their attacks. The Scout and Searcher were used operationally in 'Operation Accountability' in 1993, and subsequently in 1996 in 'Operation Grapes of Wrath'. The latter operation was marred by an incident involving UAV directed shelling of the United Nations compound in Lebanon. An improved version called the Searcher Mk. II was introduced in 1998. Both were exported, notably to India, Singapore and Australia.


Wingspan: 7.65 m (25 feet 1 inch)
Length: 5.1 m (16 ft. 8 in.)
Height: 1.25 m (4 ft. 1 in.)
Payload weight: 68 kg (150 lb.)
Launch weight: 400 kg (880 lb.)

Maximum speed: 200 km/h (125 mph / 110 kt.)
Service ceiling: 5,180 m (17,000 ft.)
Endurance: 12 h

Launch scheme: Runway or RATO booster
Recovery scheme: Runway, parachute, or net
Payload: Day / night imager
Guidance system: Autopilot with radio control backup

(alternate specs found):
Length: 4.07 m
Height: 1.184 m
Wingspan: 7.2 m
Maximum speed: 198 kph
Service ceiling (Max. altitude): 5,200 m
Max. loaded: 318 kg
Empty weight: 76 kg
Max. loaded: 118 kg

Crew/passengers: unmanned

Two Searchers used for display at various Air Shows.

A Limbach L550EG engine similar to that of the Searcher.

Three-view depiction of the earlier Scout UAV, on which Searcher was based.