RSAF's Heron 1 UAV

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has formally inducted the Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) into operational service with its 119 Squadron (SQN) at Murai Camp in Lim Chu Kang, Singapore.

Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the UAV will enhance the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the third-generation Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

"The UAVs have realised the vision of SAF’s founding pioneers but only through continued investments to develop this capability," Hen added.

Congratulating the Squadron, the Defence Minister said: "The advanced surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the Heron 1 UAV are, however, only as effective as the people who operate and maintain them."

RSAF Flight Commander Low Jun Horng, who completed a four-month Afghanistan deployment in 2010, was quoted by Strait Times as saying that the Heron 1 UAV is capable of reducing the risks faced by the soldiers in the combat zone.

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"In Afghanistan, we were very concerned about the safety of our crew going out in the open, who might then be exposed to indirect fire attacks," said Horng.

Built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Heron 1 is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV system primarily designed to conduct all-weather day-and-night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

The drone is equipped with advanced avionics, detection capabilities and communication systems, and a fully automatic take-off and landing capability. It is expected that the drone will eventually replace the RSAF’s Searcher-class UAV, which has been in service since 1994.

Featuring high-resolution, pivotable infrared TV camera, the UAV will provide SAF with real-time battlefield situational awareness and enhance mission effectiveness.

The UAV is also in use by the German, Turkish and Indian air forces.

Image: RSAF’s Heron 1 UAV at Murai Camp in Lim Chu Kang, Singapore. Photo: courtesy of MINDEF Singapore.