image Photo: IAI

Israel signs UAV deal with Asian nation

The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it has signed two deals to sell Heron MK II UAV systems to an unspecified “central Asian country,” valued at tens of millions of dollars. The package will include reconnaissance payloads, Heron MK II drones and land arrays.

The first deal involves a sale, and the second is a lease agreement for two of the systems.

IAI is a government-owned corporation that produces aerial and astronautic systems for both military and civilian usage, as well as technology for space, air, land and cyber industries.

The company’s Malat (UAV) division first introduced the Heron (Machatz-1) medium-altitude long-endurance drone in 2005.

The advanced Heron MK II can reach altitudes of 35,000 feet, a maximum speed of 140 knots and remain airborne for as long as 45 hours.

“Thanks to improved production technologies, the Heron MK II has a wider and stronger chassis enabling quick and easy maintenance without affecting the UAV’s net weight. The UAV enables the use of new configurations and has a long-range reconnaissance sensor and radar. It can carry a range of additional payloads like COMINT and ELINT equipment,” said the IAI in a statement.

The aeronautics developer added that “The UAV’s outstanding characteristic is its standoff capability, i.e. the capability of gathering intelligence on targets from a long distance (dozens of miles) with no need to cross borders, thanks to its ability to carry larger, improved sensors. In addition, the Heron MK II boasts improved avionics and an improved and reinforced engine.”

IAI Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group, Moshe Levy, said: “I commend the signing of the two Heron MK II deals. The systems will operate in a land configuration and will carry out different missions, border protection among them. The Heron MK II UAVs can land on any airstrip and can maneuver under extreme weather conditions. I am certain that these deals will open the door to additional Heron MK II deals.”

The Heron MK II is “a significant bonus to Heron operators around the world,” said the IAI, as it “shares the first model’s operational use concepts;” which “are based on extensive experience and knowledge in the field of UAVs, that IAI has been accumulating over nearly 50 years of activity, almost 2 million hours of flight time and more than 50 operational customers.”

IAI was founded by then-Defense Ministry Director General Shimon Peres and dual Israeli-US aviation expert Al Schwimmer in 1953. It has expanded into one of the country’s largest technology firms, with more than 15,000 employees.