The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is planning to replace its existing Sea Scan maritime patrol aircraft with Heron 1 (Shoval) unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems.
The IAF has placed an order with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for a maritime version of the Heron 1 UAV systems.
Equipped with a naval radar and electro-optical payload, the Heron 1 UAV systems will be capable of performing maritime patrol and intelligence gathering missions.
IAI Military Aircraft Group executive vice-president and general manager Shaul Shahar said: "The Heron 1 has proved its capability to perform long-range, long-endurance maritime patrol missions.
“Thanks to its unique features and upgraded payloads, the Heron 1 provides a better solution for the maritime patrol mission than currently exists at the IAF."
The maritime model of Heron 1 comprises an advanced electro-optical payload, the MOSP, made by the TAMAM division of IAI and the lightweight airborne naval surveillance radar made by ELTA.
The maritime Heron has been designed to safeguard naval borders and strategic infrastructures in order to meet the operational needs.
It can provide an extended operational endurance of up to 45 hours with real-time intelligence gathering, accurate target laser designation and with adverse weather operation capability through its SATCOM capabilities, IAI said in a statement.
The maritime UAS system consists of at least three aircraft, equipped with a ground and control station, a launch and retrieval station, a ground data terminal, a launch and retrieval data terminal and mission oriented payloads.
With an ability to carry multiple payloads and sensors simultaneously, IAI's maritime Heron can provide a variety of intelligence gathering capabilities ranging from target detection to full, positive identification.
Image: IAI's Maritime Heron 1. Photo: courtesy of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.