Military Wiki
Role Unmanned aerial vehicle
National origin Israel
Manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries
First flight 1994
Status Active, in production
Primary users Israeli Defence Force
Indian Air Force
Brazilian Federal Police
Turkish Air Force
Unit cost
Variants EADS Harfang
IAI Eitan

IAI Heron on display at the Paris Air Show 2009

IAI Super Heron at an Air Show to commemorate 40 years of UAVs in Israel

Controlling the UAV for experimental purposes at the Fallon Naval Air Station

The IAI Heron (Machatz-1) is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours' duration at up to 10.5 km (35,000 ft). It has demonstrated 52 hours of continuous flight, but the effective operational maximal flight duration is less, according to payload and flight profile. An advanced version, the Heron TP, is also known as the IAI Eitan.

On 11 September 2005, it was announced that the Israel Defense Forces purchased US$50 million worth of Heron systems.[2]

Design and development

The Heron navigates using an internal GPS navigation device, and either a pre-programmed flight profile (in which case the system is fully autonomous from takeoff to landing), manual override from a ground control station, or a combination of both. It can autonomously return to base and land in case of lost communication with the ground station. The system has fully automatic launch and recovery (ALR) and all-weather capabilities.

The Heron can carry an array of sensors, including thermographic camera (infrared) and visible-light airborne ground surveillance, intelligence systems (COMINT and ELINT) and various radar systems, totaling up to 250 kg (550 lb). The Heron is also capable of target acquisition and artillery adjustment.

The payload sensors communicate with the ground control station in real time, using either direct line of sight data link, or via an airborne/satellite relay. Like the navigation system, the payload can also be used in either a fully pre-programmed autonomous mode, or manual real-time remote operation, or a combination of both.

Super Heron

At the February 2014 Singapore Air Show, IAI unveiled the Super Heron refinement of the Heron UAS. The Super Heron has a 200-horsepower diesel engine[3] that increases its rate of climb and performance. Its range is 250 km (160 mi) line-of-sight and 1,000 km (620 mi) by satellite control. Endurance is 45 hours at a maximum altitude of 30,000 ft (9,100 m). Cruising speed is 60 to 80 kn (110 to 150 km/h; 69 to 92 mph) and top speed over 150 kn (280 km/h; 170 mph).[4]

Operational history

The Heron saw significant use during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza of 2008–2009. During the deployment, each brigade combat team was assigned a UAV squadron for close support. This was the first Israeli operation in which UAVs, helicopters, and fighter jets were allocated to ground forces directly without IAF central command authorizing sorties. Air-support controller teams operated alongside brigade commanders at the front emphasizing the brigade commander's utilization of direct air assets.[5] A high degree of situational awareness was achieved by maintaining at least a dozen UAVs in flight over Gaza at all times. Aerial surveillance was provided by Heron and Hermes 450 UAVs and Apache attack helicopters. Along with coordination between the air force and ground troops, Israeli ground forces were able to utilize cooperation with the Israel Security Agency by having operatives attached to the forward units. This inter-service coordination allowed for a higher level of tactical awareness and the ability to strike time-critical targets.[6]

Other countries operating the Heron include Singapore, India and Turkey.[7] France operates a derivative of Heron named Eagle or Harfang.[8] In 2008, Canada announced a plan to lease a Heron for use in Afghanistan, starting in 2009.[9] In mid-2009, Australia leased two Herons as part of a multimillion-dollar lease to operate the vehicles in Afghanistan.[10] In early July 2013, the Heron reached 15,000 flight hours over Afghanistan.[11] Australia concluded its use of the Heron in support of Operation Slipper in Afghanistan on 30 November 2014, after it had accumulated 27,000 flight hours.[12] Royal Australian Air Force retired two Herons in June 2017.[13]

Heron variants

  • Turkey operates a special variant of the Heron, which utilizes Turkish-designed and manufactured electro-optical subsystems. For example, the Turkish Herons use the ASELFLIR-300T airborne thermal Imaging and targeting system designed and manufactured by ASELSAN of Turkey. The Turkish Herons also have stronger engines in order to compensate for the added payload created by the heavier ASELFLIR-300T. This is the same FLIR system currently used in the TAI/AgustaWestland T129 attack helicopter[14] and also the TAI Anka MALE UAV. IAI staff maintain that the Turkish Heron's "with its enhanced performance, is better than all existing Heron UAVs operating worldwide”.[15] Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAŞ) provides maintenance and overhaul services for its Herons.[16]
  • EADS Harfang – variant operated by France


All exports of the IAI Heron are unarmed.[17]

Map with military IAI Heron UAV operators in blue, with former operators in red

Royal Australian Air Force Heron RPA

  • German Air Force – 3, including 2 ground stations on an initial one-year lease starting since 2010, currently running until early 2019[24][25][26]
 South Korea
United States

Former operators



Template:Aircraft specifications plane

  • Payload: 250 kg (550 lb)

See also


  1. "Border Security: Air Team – Final Report". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  2. "Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. – Home page". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  3. "Israeli company unveils new Super Heron drone". 
  4. IAI Unveils Super Heron Heavy Fuel Unmanned Aerial System –, 11 February 2014
  5. Opall-Rome, Barbara (2009-03-08). "Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan". DefenceNews. Retrieved 2009-08-04. [dead link]
  6. Eshel, David (2009-05-11). "New Tactics Yield Solid Victory in Gaza". Aviation Week. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  7. "Heron MALE System". 2005-09-21. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  8. "Eagle MALE System". 2006-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  9. "Canadian military acquiring new helicopters, drones". CBC News. 2008-08-07. 
  10. "Capital Circle".,25197,26041896-31477,00.html. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  11. Heron Logs 15,000 Flight Hours In Afghanistan –, 22 July 2013
  12. PICTURES: RAAF Heron flies at Amberley alongside manned aircraft –, 13 April 2016
  13. 13.0 13.1 "End of an era, as our Heron departs". Royal Australian Air Force. 8 August 2017. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  14. [1] Archived 20 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. [2]
  16. "WORLD – 'One project still in progress with Israel'". 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  17. "Armed Drones in the Middle East - Israel". Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). 2018. 
  18. "List of ammunition purchased by Azerbaijan made public". News.Az. 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 Barreira, Victor (15 January 2019). "Brazil to resume operations with Heron 1 UAVs". Rio de Janeiro. Archived from the original on 15 January 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2019. 
  20. Defesanet (August 2009). "Exitosa Demonstração do VANT Heron no Brasil". Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  21. Meranda, Amnon (November 2009). "Israel to supply Brazil with drones as part of $350M deal".,7340,L-3803921,00.html. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  22. COPA Flight 8 (June 2009). "Canadian Forces Briefing on UAVs". Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  23. Armada del Ecuador – ARMADA PRESENTÓ SU AVIONES NO TRIPULADOS –UAV- (Spanish)
  24. "Rheinmetall Defence and Israel Aerospace Industries to Provide ISR Services for German Armed Forces in Afghanistan". defpro. 2009-10-28. Archived from the original on 2 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  25. [3] Archived 18 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. Egozi, Arie (6 February 2018). "Heron 1 to fly on for German military". Tel Aviv. Archived from the original on 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018. 
  27. Bozinovski, Igor (7 February 2018). "Greece to lease Heron UAVs from Israel". Skopje. Archived from the original on 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018. 
  28. "Defence Industry Daily: Israel sells heron UAVs to India and Australia". 2005-11-11. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  29. "Indian Navy commissions first UAV squadron". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  30. "Eye in the sky to guard Gujarat coast". The Times Of India. 18 January 2011. 
  31. "Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. – Home page". Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  32. [4] –, 21 January 2014
  33. "News – Fact Sheet: Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) (02 Mar 11)". MINDEF. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  34. "Singapore Inaugurates Heron 1 UAV". 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  35. Seoul is buying US and Israeli drones –, 17 December 2014
  36. "PARIS AIR SHOW: Heron sees frontline El Salvador anti-drugs fight". 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 

External links

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