Germany’s parliament has now approved a deal
to lease Heron TP UAV’s from Israel. The approval puts an end to a long-running series of debates and protests. Last year a German court rejected a protest against the Heron-TP selection by rival bidder General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Additionally, many politicians opposed the idea of acquiring a UAV that could potentially be armed. The Heron TP
is reportedly capable of flying for over 35 hours at a time at altitudes around 45.000 feet. It has a maximum range of about 3,000 km and can carry a maximum payload weighing 2204 lbs. As a large MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV, it’s built to carry multiple payloads at a time for a variety of missions. Choices include electro-optical and thermal surveillance equipment, SAR radars for ground surveillance, maritime patrol radars and sensors, signals and other intelligence collection antennas and equipment, laser designators, and even radio relays. The deal is valued at $1.17 billion and allows the German army to carry out long endurance intelligence-gathering missions.
In November 2005, media reports claimed that India was set to purchase some 50 Heron MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAVs from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) in a deal worth $220 million. They would be put to use carrying out reconnaissance missions on India’s mountainous borders with China and Pakistan, and along India’s long coastal waters. India was said to have been close to sealing the deal in 2004, but it was postponed due to the change in governments in New Delhi.
The Heron’s performance during the December 2004 tsunami apparently clinched the deal. Its performance since, and Chinese aggression on the Indian border, has green-lighted a follow-on contract.