The German Heron TP, an uncrewed aerial system (UAS) developed collaboratively by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Airbus, took its first flight in German airspace.

The German Heron TP, a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) customised for the German Ministry of Defence, completed its maiden flight over German territory on 15 May 2024.

The event underlines the deepening defence collaboration between Germany and Israel, facilitated by the efforts of IAI, the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) at Israel’s Ministry of Defense, and Airbus.

Regarding defence, Germany and Israel have various facets and complex connections. Due to Germany’s historical responsibility for the Holocaust and its aftermath, the two nations enjoy a special relationship that makes Germany one of Israel’s strongest defence partners in Europe, as outlined in GlobalData’s Israel Defense Market 2023-2028 report. 

The UAS integrates technology to enhance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities for the German Armed Forces. This project is a product of the partnership between the countries, leveraging both nations to develop an operationally ready RPAS.

The maiden flight, attended by senior representatives from the German Air Force, DDR&D, Airbus, and IAI, marks a step towards achieving full operational capability for the German Heron TP. 

Boaz Levy, president and CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries hailed the flight as a milestone achievement, emphasising its importance for IAI’s global standing in aerospace and defence solutions.

Levy says: “The deployment of Heron TP in Germany signifies a milestone achievement for Israel Aerospace Industries, reinforcing our position as a leading provider of cutting-edge aerospace and defence solutions on the global stage.”

Despite ongoing regional tensions, Israeli defence companies such as IAI are expanding their global presence through contracts and partnerships. Companies such as these face challenges amidst regional hostilities and calls for arms embargoes.

Dr Daniel Gold, Head of DDR&D at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, highlighted the strategic importance of the German Heron TP, describing it as a qualitative leap forward in military capability: “This joint endeavour between Israel and Germany exemplifies the strong partnership and collaboration between our nations.”

As highlighted by GlobalData’s intelligence on the German defence market, Germany recently signed an agreement with Israel to purchase the advanced Arrow 3 missile defence system intended to intercept long-range ballistic missiles.

Jean-Brice Dumont, head of Air Power at Airbus Defence and Space, echoed these sentiments, noting the successful history of cooperation on the Heron 1 and the expanded capabilities of the Heron TP: “With the German Heron TP, we are building on the success of our close cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries and the German Armed Forces. This RPAS has been vital for the safety of German troops and populations in Afghanistan and Mali.”

As the German Heron TP takes to the skies, it signifies a technological achievement and symbolises the partnership between Germany and Israel.