The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has begun operations of the first Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in support of the Australian troops in Afghanistan.

Designated A45-262, the UAV will deliver high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability, in support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations in Afghanistan.

As part of the project Nankeen, Canadian firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) signed a contract with the Defence Material Organisation to develop the UAV.

Equipped with cutting-edge technology, the UAV will enhance the security of the ground troop, by providing ground commanders with ongoing, real-time situational awareness.

The long-endurance features of Heron UAV increase the ADF’s operational ISR capabilities in Afghanistan that are currently provided by RAAF AP-3C Orions and the army’s Scan Eagle tactical UAV.