IAI Heron

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Heron
IAI Heron 1 in flight 2.JPEG
Role Unmanned aerial vehicle
National origin Israel
Manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries
First flight 1994
Status Active, in production
Primary users Israeli Defence Force
Indian Air Force
Brazilian Federal Police
Turkish Air Force
Unit cost
$10M[1]
Variants EADS Harfang
IAI Eitan
Caçador
IAI Heron on display at the Paris Air Show 2009
IAI Super Heron at an Air Show to commemorate 40 years of UAVs in Israel
Controlling the UAV for experimental purposes at the Fallon Naval Air Station

The IAI Heron (Machatz-1) is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours' duration at up to 10.5 km (35,000 ft). It has demonstrated 52 hours of continuous flight, but the effective operational maximal flight duration is less, according to payload and flight profile. An advanced version, the Heron TP, is also known as the IAI Eitan.

On 11 September 2005, it was announced that the Israel Defense Forces purchased US$50 million worth of Heron systems.[2]

Design and development[edit]

The Heron navigates using an internal GPS navigation device, and either a pre-programmed flight profile (in which case the system is fully autonomous from takeoff to landing), manual override from a ground control station, or a combination of both. It can autonomously return to base and land in case of lost communication with the ground station. The system has fully automatic launch and recovery (ALR) and all-weather capabilities.

The Heron can carry an array of sensors, including thermographic camera (infrared) and visible-light airborne ground surveillance, intelligence systems (COMINT and ELINT) and various radar systems, totaling up to 250 kg (550 lb). The Heron is also capable of target acquisition and artillery adjustment.

The payload sensors communicate with the ground control station in real time, using either direct line of sight data link, or via an airborne/satellite relay. Like the navigation system, the payload can also be used in either a fully pre-programmed autonomous mode, or manual real-time remote operation, or a combination of both.

Super Heron[edit]

At the February 2014 Singapore Air Show, IAI unveiled the Super Heron refinement of the Heron UAS. The Super Heron has a 200-horsepower diesel engine[3] that increases its rate of climb and performance. Its range is 250 km (160 mi) line-of-sight and 1,000 km (620 mi) by satellite control. Endurance is 45 hours at a maximum altitude of 30,000 ft (9,100 m). Cruising speed is 60 to 80 kn (110 to 150 km/h; 69 to 92 mph) and top speed over 150 kn (280 km/h; 170 mph).[4]

Operational history[edit]

The Heron saw significant use during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza of 2008–2009. During the deployment, each brigade combat team was assigned a UAV squadron for close support. This was the first Israeli operation in which UAVs, helicopters, and fighter jets were allocated to ground forces directly without IAF central command authorizing sorties. Air-support controller teams operated alongside brigade commanders at the front emphasizing the brigade commander's utilization of direct air assets.[5] A high degree of situational awareness was achieved by maintaining at least a dozen UAVs in flight over Gaza at all times. Aerial surveillance was provided by Heron and Hermes 450 UAVs and Apache attack helicopters. Along with coordination between the air force and ground troops, Israeli ground forces were able to utilize cooperation with the Israel Security Agency by having operatives attached to the forward units. This inter-service coordination allowed for a higher level of tactical awareness and the ability to strike time-critical targets.[6]

Other countries operating the Heron include Singapore, India and Turkey.[7] France operates a derivative of Heron named Eagle or Harfang.[8] In 2008, Canada announced a plan to lease a Heron for use in Afghanistan, starting in 2009.[9] In mid-2009, Australia leased two Herons as part of a multimillion-dollar lease to operate the vehicles in Afghanistan.[10] In early July 2013, the Heron reached 15,000 flight hours over Afghanistan.[11] Australia concluded its use of the Heron in support of Operation Slipper in Afghanistan on 30 November 2014, after it had accumulated 27,000 flight hours.[12] Royal Australian Air Force retired two Herons in June 2017.[13]

Heron variants[edit]

  • Turkey operates a special variant of the Heron, which utilizes Turkish-designed and manufactured electro-optical subsystems. For example, the Turkish Herons use the ASELFLIR-300T airborne thermal Imaging and targeting system designed and manufactured by ASELSAN of Turkey. The Turkish Herons also have stronger engines in order to compensate for the added payload created by the heavier ASELFLIR-300T. This is the same FLIR system currently used in the TAI/AgustaWestland T129 attack helicopter[14] and also the TAI Anka MALE UAV. IAI staff maintain that the Turkish Heron's "with its enhanced performance, is better than all existing Heron UAVs operating worldwide”.[15] Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAŞ) provides maintenance and overhaul services for its Herons.[16]
  • EADS Harfang – variant operated by France

Operators[edit]

All exports of the IAI Heron are unarmed.[17]

Map with military IAI Heron UAV operators in blue, with former operators in red
 Azerbaijan
 Brazil
 Canada
 Ecuador
 Germany
  • German Air Force – 3, including 2 ground stations on an initial one-year lease starting since 2010, currently running until early 2019[24][25][26]
 Greece
 India
 Israel
 Morocco
 Singapore[33][34]
 South Korea
 Turkey
 United States

Former operators[edit]

 Australia

Specifications[edit]

Data from "Heron/Shoval/Eitan". Israeli-weapons.com. Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.

General characteristics

Performance

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Border Security: Air Team – Final Report" (PDF). Isr.umd.edu. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. – Home page". Iai.co.il. Archived from the original on 16 December 2005. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  3. ^ "Israeli company unveils new Super Heron drone". Archived from the original on 7 December 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  4. ^ IAI Unveils Super Heron Heavy Fuel Unmanned Aerial System Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine – Deagel.com, 11 February 2014
  5. ^ Opall-Rome, Barbara (8 March 2009). "Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan". DefenceNews. Retrieved 4 August 2009.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Eshel, David (11 May 2009). "New Tactics Yield Solid Victory in Gaza". Aviation Week. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  7. ^ "Heron MALE System". Defense-update.com. 21 September 2005. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Eagle MALE System". Defense-update.com. 11 September 2006. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Canadian military acquiring new helicopters, drones". CBC News. 7 August 2008. Archived from the original on 19 December 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  10. ^ "Capital Circle". Theaustralian.news.com.au. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  11. ^ Heron Logs 15,000 Flight Hours In Afghanistan Archived 11 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine – sUASNews.com, 22 July 2013
  12. ^ PICTURES: RAAF Heron flies at Amberley alongside manned aircraft Archived 26 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine – Flightglobal.com, 13 April 2016
  13. ^ a b "End of an era, as our Heron departs" (Press release). Royal Australian Air Force. 8 August 2017. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  14. ^ [1] Archived 20 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ "WORLD – 'One project still in progress with Israel'". Hurriyetdailynews.com. 4 November 2011. Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  17. ^ "Armed Drones in the Middle East - Israel". Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). 2018. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  18. ^ "List of ammunition purchased by Azerbaijan made public". News.Az. 27 March 2012. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  19. ^ a b Barreira, Victor (15 January 2019). "Brazil to resume operations with Heron 1 UAVs". Jane's 360. Rio de Janeiro. Archived from the original on 15 January 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  20. ^ Defesanet (August 2009). "Exitosa Demonstração do VANT Heron no Brasil". Archived from the original on 2 November 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
  21. ^ Meranda, Amnon (November 2009). "Israel to supply Brazil with drones as part of $350M deal". Archived from the original on 15 November 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
  22. ^ COPA Flight 8 (June 2009). "Canadian Forces Briefing on UAVs". Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
  23. ^ Armada del Ecuador – ARMADA PRESENTÓ SU AVIONES NO TRIPULADOS –UAV- Archived 30 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine (Spanish)
  24. ^ "Rheinmetall Defence and Israel Aerospace Industries to Provide ISR Services for German Armed Forces in Afghanistan". defpro. 28 October 2009. Archived from the original on 2 November 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
  25. ^ [3] Archived 18 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Egozi, Arie (6 February 2018). "Heron 1 to fly on for German military". Flight Global. Tel Aviv. Archived from the original on 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  27. ^ Bozinovski, Igor (7 February 2018). "Greece to lease Heron UAVs from Israel". IHS Jane's 360. Skopje. Archived from the original on 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  28. ^ "Defence Industry Daily: Israel sells heron UAVs to India and Australia". Strategypage.com. 11 November 2005. Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  29. ^ "Indian Navy commissions first UAV squadron". Us.rediff.com. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  30. ^ "Eye in the sky to guard Gujarat coast". The Times Of India. 18 January 2011. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  31. ^ "Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. – Home page". Iai.co.il. Archived from the original on 24 April 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  32. ^ [4] Archived 15 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine – www.israeldefense.co.il, 21 January 2014
  33. ^ "News – Fact Sheet: Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) (02 Mar 11)". MINDEF. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  34. ^ "Singapore Inaugurates Heron 1 UAV". Flightglobal.com. 24 May 2012. Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  35. ^ Seoul is buying US and Israeli drones Archived 26 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine – Defense-Update.com, 17 December 2014
  36. ^ "PARIS AIR SHOW: Heron sees frontline El Salvador anti-drugs fight". Flightglobal.com. 15 June 2009. Archived from the original on 25 February 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  37. ^ "UAVs at the Forefront of Future Warfare". Airforce Technology. Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2012.

External links[edit]