Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Uncategorized

Israel’s Best Drone? What Make the IAI Super Heron Truly Special

Super Heron
Super Heron. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Israel first unveiled its upgraded IAI Super Heron unmanned air system at the Singapore Air Show in 2014. This cutting-edge and advanced drone added to Israel’s previously existing and widely exported “Heron” remote reconnaissance line. 

Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Heron UAV has been exported to over 20 countries, including Turkey, Australia, Germany, and India. With over 250,000 operational flight hours worldwide, Heron’s popularity influenced IAI’s decision to push out a newer variant equipped with the latest technology and advancements. The Super Heron was truly a product of the increasing demand for enhanced UAVs around the globe.

New And Improved Heron

IAI’s Super Heron variant was developed quickly since it was adapted from its previously existing Heron and Heron TP platforms. Prior to its introduction, the new variant was garnering attention and interest from international industries. The CEO of IAI Joseph Weiss relayed that “Its development reflects our (IAI’s) continuous investment in UAVs and advanced technologies. We (IAI) previously identified this sector as a key growth engine for the company.” At the time, IAI’s various UAVs had accumulated over 1.1 million operational flight hours around the world.

The Super Heron’s predecessor, the IAI Heron (Machatz-1), was initially unveiled in the early 2000s and was ultimately purchased by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 2005. The medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle primarily operates in strategic reconnaissance and surveillance missions. This UAV hosts automated take-off and landing and is all-weather capable. 

Additionally, it features multiple sensors and satellite communication (SATCOM) that can execute precise data capture and transfer capabilities. The Indian Air Force, Turkish Air Force, and The Royal Australian Air Force all utilize the Heron drone for high-altitude land surveillance and maritime patrol missions, among other operations. Heron’s use in militaries worldwide indicates the growing demand for advanced UAV technology.

The Super Heron’s 2014 debut certainly coincided with the rapidly expanding international market for advanced drones. The drone’s enhanced configurations enable it to partake in a variety of missions, including intelligence, target acquisition, reconnaissance, and surveillance. 

Equipped with a more sophisticated engine than its predecessor, the Super Heron can fly at over 150 knots and has a faster rate of climb. Its predecessor, in comparison, places out at 115 knots. Additionally, the Super Heron’s engine uses diesel fuel instead of standard aviation fuel, minimizing required maintenance and also making the aircraft safer to transport. While the new variant has a similar maximum airborne time of up to 45 hours and a maximum altitude of 30,000 feet, the Super Heron’s internal makeup is fully upgraded. 

As a larger variant, the Super Heron could also compete with equally large UAVs, which continue to flood the international market. The advanced drone’s larger size makes it capable of carrying bigger internal mission payloads. 

In the last two decades, drone technology has increasingly become the backbone of air forces around the world. Israel has remained a leader in the UAV sphere since the 1970s and will likely continue to develop state-of-the-art drones in the future. 

Maya Carlin is a Middle East Defense Editor with 19FortyFive. She is also an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel.

Written By

Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel.