Herti is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed and developed by BAE Systems. Developed for the UK’s defence forces, the UAV performs intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition operations. It captures and transmits high-resolution imagery to a ground control station (GCS) through a very low network bandwidth.
Herti, or High Endurance Rapid Technology Insertion, is the first UAV in the UK to be accredited with United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority certification. The aircraft’s maiden flight took place in December 2004 at Woomera, South Australia. It entered into service in 2007.
Herti was deployed in Helmand, Afghanistan, for operational trials as part of Project Morrigan. Operated from Camp Bastion, the UAV succeeded in demonstrating its capabilities in an operational environment.
Herti UAV variants
There are four Herti variants: Herti-D, Herti-1A, Herti-1B and Fury.
Herti-D is an advanced version. It weighs around 350kg and is fitted with a J&AS Aero Design J5 Marco motor glider. It was later removed from production when it was realised that the original Herti offered a better payload and endurance.
Herti-1A features a large and modified airframe and is powered by a BMW piston engine. It offers a higher endurance and payload compared to Herti-D.
Herti-1B is fitted with a modern image collection exploitation mission system which aids in surveillance applications. It is equipped with a Rotax piston engine and uses multi-lane flight controls.
Fury is the armed version of the UAV. It was first displayed at the 2008 Farnborough International Air Show as an armed reconnaissance aircraft. It is fitted with a Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile.
Herti unmanned aerial vehicle design
Herti has been designed with plug and play elements to perform military and commercial operations. It is equipped with a standard 35mm wide-angle lens and a 200mm telephoto lens on an ordinary camera.
The UAV’s airframe design allows it to operate from unprepared strips. The airframe was designed by J&AS Aero Design of Poland and is manufactured by Slingsby Aviation in the UK. BAE Systems manufactured the state-of-the-art flight control system and avionics suite.
BAE Systems has installed Oxley Developments’ anti-collision lights on the wing-tip and the tail of the UAV.
The UAV is designed to operate automatically even under adverse weather conditions. Automated functions allow ground station operators to focus more on overall tasks than on vehicle control.
Herti can be controlled either manually from a ground control station or through an autonomous mode. An automatic launch and recovery system helps land the UAV safely safe in case of a communication failure with the GCS.
An optical camera mounted on the fuselage section of the aircraft captures high-quality images. The UAV selects only the images matching predefined characteristics such as colour or shape and then transmits them to a ground control station via a satellite data link.
Herit is installed with electro optical (EO) and infra-red sensors. The EO sensor converts light rays into electronic signals for capturing images, real-time data and videos. The UAV is also fitted with synthetic aperture radar manufactured by Selex.
Herti is powered by a single Rotax 914 engine with a variable pitch propeller. The engine can produce 84.5kW of output power. Rotax 914 is a liquid air-cooled engine fitted with a separate oil tank, two carburettors, electronic dual ignition, electric starter, a propeller speed reduction unit and an air intake system.
Ground control station
The processing, retrieving and storing of real-time data is carried out at the ground control station. BAE Systems manufactured a mobile viewing terminal and collateral and information management system to enhance the operational effectiveness of the UAV as well as to provide access to real-time data via a satellite link.
The maximum speed of Herti is 231km/h. Its service ceiling is 6,096m. Its maximum endurance is 20 hours. The UAV weighs around 650kg and its maximum take-off weight is 450kg.