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IAI claims landmark achievement for civil-military UAV integration
Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel has become the first in the world to handle a UAV arrival alongside commercial traffic in civilian airspace.
A Heron UAV from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) took off from Ein Shemer airfield and landed at the Tel Aviv airport on 16 September, using the IAI Long Runner operating system.
The entire take-off, flight, and landing were operated from a control station at Ein Shemer.
Long Runner allows UAVs to take off and land automatically on flights of up to 1,500km using SATCOM technology ‘and a combination of accurate take-off and automatic landing capability’, IAI noted in a statement.
‘The future of the world of aviation will need to allow unmanned aerial vehicles to land at civilian airports,’ said Moshe Levy, IAI executive vice-president and general manager of the Military Aircraft Group.
IAI has already investigated the use of Heron as a cargo platform to supply troops in combat zones; it now hopes that military-grade UAVs such as Heron will eventually be able routinely to use airport infrastructure to ferry equipment and defence materiel.
Image credit: Alon Ron
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