The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has declared full operational capability (FOC) for its Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Built by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Heron 1 UAV is capable of providing fully-coloured real-time images and full-motion videos for commanders to make immediate decisions on the ground.
The system is equipped with advanced avionics, detection capabilities, communications systems, fully automatic take-off and landing capabilities and longer flight endurance.
Singapore Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said: “The FOC of Heron 1 brings the RSAF’s unmanned aerial capabilities to the level of advanced militaries globally.
"The Heron 1 is among the most advanced UAV systems in its class, able to perform several missions simultaneously as with a suite of state-of-the-art sensors and enhanced range.”
“Apart from these conventional operations, it can also be deployed against terrorist threats, because its persistence enables it to cover a wide area of surveillance.”
A team of regular and full-time national servicemen (NSFs) UAV pilots, air imagery intelligence experts and air force engineers will operate the UAV.
LTA Marcus Chia, one of the NSF UAV pilots, said that the training to be a UAV pilot demands the same standard as that of an actual plane pilot.
A pilot will have to undergo a total of 18 months of training to become operational ready.
During the training, the candidate's psychomotor, mental, communications and leaderships skills will also be constantly tested.
The Heron 1 UAV can be used for both wartime and peacetime missions, and has been deployed in several past military exercises in Singapore and abroad, such as Exercise Forging Sabre ’15, Exercise Wallaby ’16, and Exercise Cope Tiger ’16.
Image: Heron 1 UAV. Photo: courtesy of Government of Singapore.