Israel Aerospace Industries’ Heron is a large MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV in the MQ-1 Predator’s Class. It is primarily used as a surveillance UAV over land and sea, and can be equipped with a number of modular radar, sensor, and even electronic intelligence packages. The 2006 war in Lebanon also demonstrated that they could be armed, if necessary. Herons are known to serve with Israel (Heron 1 and Heron TP), India, Turkey, and in France as the EAGLE/ Harfang variant. They have also been used successfully by US SOUTHCOM as drug interdiction aircraft; a leasing deal with El Salvador is reportedly pending, and Brazil is also showing interest.
Canada has a long-term JUSTAS program that includes UAVs in this class, and the Heron will fill the Phase 1 near-term MALE UAV requirements – but the longer-term procurement choices remains in limbo. Meanwhile, the Heron UAV was leased to serve the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, under an August 2008 arrangement. In 2009, Australia added itself as a second customer.