The adaptation of the Heron TP currently used by Germany and the intention to purchase additional UAVs are expected to bring contracts valued at more than $450 million mainly to IAI.
Some years ago Germany signed a contract to lease seven Heron TP UAVs. These are intended to support German operations in Africa and Asia.
The UAVs have been leased for a period of nine years and are capable of carrying “unique air-to-ground missiles” according to German sources.
According to the German Defence Ministry, these weapons are capable of aborting their trajectory towards the target in case civilians may be hurt.
The arming of the MALE UAVs was in the heart of the internal debate in Germany before the deal was approved and continued afterwards.
German sources said that during the negotiations “several options to use Israeli developed weapons have been evaluated”.
Two months ago Israel removed a gag order about the use of armed UAVs by the Israeli air force. This order was in place for over 20 years. The official gag order was in place in spite of the fact that the armed UAVs have been photographed over Gaza and Lebanon.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has first purchased an armed UAV in 1990. This was the Elbit systems Hermes 450 dubbed “ZIK” (spark).
This armed UAV has since been used extensively mainly in Gaza to perform pinpoint attacks on terror targets.
This armed UAV has also been used in Lebanon against Hezbollah targets.
But the demand grew as the armed UAVs proved their efficiency and the IAF acquired other types of armed UAVs – the Hermes 900 made by Elbit and the Heron TP made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The Israeli defence industries, namely Rafael and IAI, developed special weapon systems for the IAF ‘s armed UAVs.
Now according to Israeli sources some countries requested demonstrations of the Israeli armed UAVs. These according to the sources will be performed soon and contracts are expected to follow.
The use of armed UAVs in Ukraine and the German concern about future Russian aggression, has resulted in the decision of the German Ministry of defence to arm its leased IAI Heron TP UAVs with missiles and purchase additional UAVs.
According to Israeli sources the IAF has developed a doctrine of using its armed UAV’s in different scenarios. This includes using formations and various missiles.
The Israeli sources said that the UAVs armed with the missiles are equipped with very advanced payloads that help detect the targets “under very severe” conditions.
As the Heron TP is a long endurance, big UAV it can carry a mix of weapon systems to perform different missions.