The IAI Heron (aka "Machatz-1") is a modern unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) currently in service with several armed forces around the world (the IAI classifies its Heron as an "unmanned aerial system" , abbreviated as UAS). Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) (Malat Division), the Heron represents another in a growing family of high-performance unmanned aerial systems available to the military today, in which drones can be used to detect enemy movement for surveillance , record mission actions, or identify potential targets while keeping pilots relatively safe.
The Heron exhibits exceptional intrinsic qualities that allow it to work in tandem with ground and air forces at altitude, range, and dwell time, which can only be used to enhance the tactical capabilities of any force.
The Heron system consists of the aircraft unit itself and the associated ground control station. Many of its facilities and functions are fully automatic, including waypoint operations and takeoff/landing operations. Guidance is via a GPS receiver and communication with ground control via a satellite relay (SATCOM) or direct line-of-sight (LoS) data link system from the ground. The Heron itself is unarmed, but can be used to provide real-time airborne intelligence to convoys in the air or on the ground in almost any weather condition.
Like other drones in this class, the Heron can fly on pre-programmed mission trajectories or be piloted directly by ground crew. The ground operator can also take over the automatic Heron function at any time.
Other internal Heron systems include electro-optical TV/IR systems, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Maritime Patrol Radar (MPR).
Foreign operators have chosen Heron, and India is by far one of the largest owners of this type. Other units include Australia, Brazil, Canada, France (as the EADS "Eagle"), Germany and Turkey - although these units are supplied in relatively small numbers.
The Turkish heron (called "Heron TP") is considered to be by far the most developed lineage of the heron family.
All in all, Heron is available in two different production forms, "Heron 1" and "Heron TP". The Heron 1 is the base Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone model with a 550-pound payload capacity and 52-hour mission duration, while the Heron TP is a newer, better-fitting, advanced outfit with improvements performance specifications and inherently multi-role nature.
The Heron TP retains the advantages of the original Heron design, but is powered by a 1,200-horsepower turboprop (four-blade) engine that can carry payloads of up to 2,200 pounds and reach altitudes of 45,000 feet. However, the improved capability reduces the expected mission duration to 36 hours, although this is somewhat negligible given the improvements to the basic design.
Herons have been used by the Israeli military, especially in operations in the Gaza Strip. Working alongside Israeli helicopters and fighter jets, as well as advancing ground forces in this case, Heron provides Israeli commanders with valuable real-time monitoring of operations unfolding -- a far cry from the "blind" methods of warfare that have only been seen Ten years ago.
- Ground Attack
- Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
54.46 ft (16.6 m)
129 mph (207 km/h; 112 knots)
30,512 ft (9,300 m; 5.78 mi)
217 miles (350 km; 189 nautical miles)
No. The mission payload consists only of specialized equipment, namely cameras and sensors.
"Heron" - base series name
"Heron 1" - first production model; 550 lb payload; 52 hour battery life; 30,000 feet altitude.
"Heron TP" - Modified Heron; 2,200 lb payload; 36 hour battery life; maximum altitude 45,000 feet.
"Harfang" ("eagle") - French name
"Artemis" - Based on Heron TP; in service with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
"Heron-T" - smaller variant announced in June 2019; 34.8ft wingspan, 1.80kg payload; 100hp Rotax engine; 120kt speed, 24,000ft ceiling and 240km range .
Heron II - Improved/enhanced performance model unveiled at Singapore Airshow 2020.