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Paris Air Show: Tight timeframe in Heron saga

20th June 2017 - 15:30 by Richard Thomas in Paris

Paris Air Show: Tight timeframe in Heron saga

The unmanned systems arm of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is hopeful that a decision on the proposed lease of Heron TP medium altitude, long endurance UAVs to Germany will be made in the coming weeks.

After this point the German elections will begin in earnest which would further delay a decision on the long-awaited and increasingly controversial programme.

Shaul Shahar, executive VP military aircraft group at IAI, told Shephard that the company was waiting to see what the outcome will be after the latest courtroom decision on 31 May.

‘As you know, it has been published all over the world, General Atomics took the German customer to court [over the purchase of Heron TP].

‘A second appeal at the High Court of Appeal rejected the General Atomics claim. The case should go before the [German parliament] for approval, and let’s see.’

Last year German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen disclosed that the country would lease Heron TP UAVs instead of the purchasing MQ-9 Reaper system from US-based General Atomics, a type in use with the US, UK, French, Italian and Spanish militaries, with other European countries also touted as being potential operators.

The complaint was that the decision made by the German government had not been made through an open competition.

The lease deal at the time was reported to be worth over $600 million, and would serve as a stop-gap until the proposed development of a pan-European MALE UAV.

Talking about unmanned technologies in general, Shahar said that UAVs should be viewed as one component in a ‘system of systems’ that were needed to complete a specified mission. 

On future autonomous capabilities for unmanned systems, he said that an aim would be to see a single operator performing a complete mission, with much of the basic duty taken on by the platform.

Meanwhile, legislation needed to be developed in order to allow the complete integration of UAVs into national airspace, in the same way as manned aviation was conducted.

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