IAI Heron RPAS – Operations Update

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IAI will supply three Heron I UAS to South Korea, as the first phase of a contract expected to be signed next year. Photo: IAI

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[wlm_ismember]The Heron I RPAS has been operating over the Mediterranean Sea and Southern Europe under this authorization as part an experiment run by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX, evaluating the use of air patrols to spot illegal immigrants from North Africa.

On other operations in Spain, the Heron operated from civilian airports. In Israel, where most of the airspace is controlled by the military, the Heron is assuming maritime patrols as it replaces the small fleet of SeaScan aircraft soon about to retire after 40 years of service.

The recent lease by Airbus, on behalf of the German Government of Heron TP drones worth $600 million was a major deal for IAI, confirming the of its drones for military customers worldwide. To overcome the operational limitations over Europe these drones will operate from bases in Israel, and deploy to support German contingencies worldwide.

GA-ASI that lost the German opportunity to IAI is determined to win the new opportunity closer to home – in Canada. GA-ASI and IAI are competing for a new sale of MALE drones to Canada. The Canadians plan to award an order in 2021-2022 that will include the acquisition of several MALE UAS, equipment and associated In-Service Support (ISS) to sustain operations for 20 years. Although designed primarily for reconnaissance the drones will be weaponizable. According to the Canadian sources, the number of RPASs will be determined to meet three simultaneous lines of tasking, this will depend on the acquisition strategy, infrastructure needs, and the platforms chosen.

GA-ASI teamed with the Canadian company CAE and L3 WESCAM, to offer SkyGuardian. IAI is teamed with another division of L3 – Canadian based L3 MAS, to form the Artemis Team, offering IAI’s Heron TP for the project. L3-MAS will become the prime contractor the Canadians pick the Israeli drone for their project.[/wlm_ismember]