An unmanned aerial vehicle made in Israel for Germany's Defense Ministry completed
its first successful flight, builder Israel Aerospace Industries announced. The Heron TP, modified to the specifications of the German Defense Ministry, completed its first flight on July 26 in Israel, the company said. The medium altitude, long endurance Heron TP
, regarded as the company's most advanced drone, can be used for reconnaissance and support roles, and can fire air-to-ground missiles. With a maximum takeoff weight of 11,365 pounds, the vehicle has a 54-foot wingspan and can carry a payload of over 2,200 pounds. It is based on the Eitan UAV in use by the Israel Air Force. The German and Israeli defense ministries signed a nine-year, $600 million agreement in 2018 to lease an unknown number of UAVs. The contract covers training, support and maintenance, with 35 two-man teams from Germany training in Israel to operate the drones.
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.