Israel Aerospace Industries will unveil its latest multi-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, Heron MK II, at the Singapore Airshow next month.Using the most advanced technologies developed by IAI to date, the Heron MK II is a strategic and versatile aircraft capable of carrying diverse payloads. Fitted with a Rotax 915 iS engine, the Heron MK II can reach an altitude of 10668 m., a maximum speed of 140 knots and can remain in the air for 45 consecutive hours.
The Heron MK II is an updated model of the Heron UAV, which is used by the Israel Air Force and is operational with over 20 other organizations around the world. With larger and improved sensors, the standout feature of the Heron MK II is its standoff capability, gathering intelligence from tens of kilometers away from enemy fire and without crossing borders.
The UAV also has an onboard server, enabling operators to access large amounts of raw or processed sensor data stored on the flight. The maximum takeoff weight for the Heron MK II is 1,350 kg. with a payload weight of 470 kg., and it has a maximum speed of 140 knots compared to the 120 knots of the Heron MK I.
The Heron MK I has a maximum mission endurance of over 24 hours. Equipped with satellite data link and electro-optical infrared sensors, the Heron I is able to not only provide reconnaissance to ground forces in combat situations, assist in convoying and patrolling, create movement profiles and long-term monitoring, but also to track down explosives from the air.
Due to improved manufacturing technologies, the Heron MK II has a wider and stronger body structure, strong enough to carry Sonobuoy anti-submarine monitoring systems, as well as a magnetometer to identify targets underwater.
In addition to wide-band communication systems allowing intelligence to be shared instantaneously, it also has an improved engine and avionics, a stronger propulsion system which allows for a climb rate of 550 knots (compared to the 140 knots of the older model), new configurations, new long-range observation sensors and radars, and can carry a wide range of additional payloads for various configurations such as ELINT and COMINT.
The UAV has also been fitted with the most advanced automation systems, allowing operators to shut down the propulsion system and restart it using satellite communications, as well as refuel it in any location where there is a runway.
“We are proud to introduce another major development in IAI’s UAVs,” said IAI executive vice president and general manager of the Military Aircraft Group, Moshe Levy. “The Heron MK II allows for considerable expansion of the operational package, with an emphasis on standoff intelligence collection. The new member of the Heron family, already considered one of the prime strategic UAVs in the world, allows us to expand our range of operational solutions we offer our customers.”
According to foreign media reports, Israel is considered a leading exporter of drones, and the IAI has over 50 operational customers around the globe, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea.
The Heron MK II joins the IAI’s Heron UAS family, which for over 50 years has flown over 1,800,000 combat flight hours with over 50 operational customers who use the drones in a range of missions, environmental conditions and battle theaters across the globe.