The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has decided to fly its Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Heron remotely-piloted unmanned air vehicle (UAV) from RAAF Amberley in Queensland.
This will be the first time the RAAF has flown the Heron from a major air force base in Australia.
The latest decision will see the Heron take off from RAAF Base Amberley conduct flights in the Australian military airspace alongside C-17A Globemaster III, F/A-18F SuperHornets and KC-30A multi-role tanker transport aircraft for about two weeks.
The development also marks the first time in history that the aircraft has flown in military airspace in Australia outside of currently controlled military airspace over the Woomera Test Range and Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
The aircraft has completed 27,000 mission hours in support of Operation SLIPPER, with the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) final Heron UAV detachment returning home from Afghanistan following a five-year mission.
Currently, the RAAF operates two Heron aircraft from RAAF Base Woomera in South Australia.
Heron is a MALE UAV system designed primarily to conduct all-weather day-and-night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions for up to 52 hours.
The drone is equipped with advanced avionics, high-resolution, pivotable infrared TV camera, detection capabilities and communication systems and a fully automatic take-off and landing capability.
Different versions of Heron are currently in use with Australian, Israeli, German, Turkish and Indian air forces.