UV - Unmanned Vehicles

Paris Air Show: IAI inducts new TUAS to Heron family

10th June 2019 - 12:00 GMT | by Tim Martin in London

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Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has launched a third addition to its unmanned Heron collection, with the TUAS to be known as T-Heron.

Developed for ground troop and coastguard operators the vehicle itself has not yet undergone flight testing to fully mature systems, but capabilities including a 150kg maximum payload, 120kt maximum speed limit, 24h endurance, 24,000ft altitude ceiling, SATCOM BVLOS feasibility and runway independence, are all based on the designs and capabilities of four existing Heron iterations.

The aircraft can also carry up to four payloads: one for COMINT functions, an EO/IR laser designator, a maritime patrol radar and a synthetic aperture radar, whilst also being equipped with an IFF transponder and a 100shp Rotax 912 engine.

‘The ground package shares operational commonality with all the other systems we have sold worldwide,’ an IAI spokesperson explained. ‘All payload data can be transferred simultaneously and in real-time to ground control stations.

Asked by Shephard about pre-flight developments, the spokesperson shared that IAI is currently testing components before a first flight takes place in December.

‘The full system is based on mature building blocks, all of which we have used before, whether that’s the propulsion system or the avionics that have been fully operational with other Heron aircraft for the last 15 years. Those [components] have supported hundreds of thousands of operational flight hours, but this [new] Heron version has been downsized by 70%,’ he added.

IAI is currently in discussions with ‘several’ customers about possible sales of the T-Heron, some of whom have already requested individual items they would like to have installed on the system.

‘Customer interest is coming from current Heron operators and those who don’t, we have interest from both sides,’ the spokesperson told Shephard.

The Heron-T is not intended to be weaponised.

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