Israel's Heron UAV has passed its latest flight test, a long-range mission across the Andes. The drone, produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), performed the demonstration last month using satellite communications for control and activation, the firm said.
During its flight, the Heron carried a synthetic aperture radar payload, electro-optical/infrared sensor and a communications intelligence system. The aircraft performed reliably during both day and night flights over several days of activity at ranges of more than 270nm (500 kilometers) and to altitudes of more than 25,000 feet (7,620 meters), IAI officials said.
Ten days ago, Israel unveiled its latest addition to the UAV fleet, the "Shoval." Also produced by IAI and used in sea surveillance by the Israeli Air Force and Navy. the Shoval comes as an upgrade to a previous drone which had only one surveillance camera. The new version has four cameras that are able to provide quicker and clearer identification of other vehicles and objects from a distance of dozens of miles away. It also carries radar that can identify an enemy within a 300 kilometer range – reaching as far as Egypt, Turkey or Cyprus – and uses satellite communications to send footage of what it sees to remote locations.
The drone is able to operate during bad weather, and fly under cloud height, and is not affected by the rain, an IDF official told reporters. One of its most useful – and defensive – enhancements is its ability to intercept threats within moments. It has already been purchased by the military forces of 30 countries, including the United States and Canada.
A little over a week ago, an unidentified IDF drone crash-landed near the Samaria (Shomron) Jewish community of Har Bracha during a routine patrol flight. According to the IDF Spokesperson, during the aircraft's descent it suddenly veered off course and hit the ground, damaging its wing in the process.
The UAV is being evaluated and the incident is under investigation to determine why the drone malfunctioned.