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Germany to equip Heron TP drones with weapon systems

By Arie Egozi

Another result of the war in Ukraine: Germany will use Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP strategic UAVs for its enhanced defence strategy. In 2016, the Germans leased five Heron TP and another two for training in a deal valued at around EUR 1 billion. The deal has since been expanded.

 

After a long debate, the German parliament approved equipping the UAVs with dedicated weapon systems. Initially, the deal was meant to allow the long-endurance UAVs to support German forces overseas. But the war in Ukraine prompted Germany to reconsider its defence needs. The Germans signed a deal to acquire the Israeli-made Arrow 3 air defence system, designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles. Now, the Germans have decided to expand the use of the Heron TP UAVs.

A few days ago, IAI signed what is defined as a “pivotal agreement” to deploy cutting-edge Heron-TP UAVs as part of a comprehensive UAV deal for Germany. The agreement solidifies a landmark collaboration to enhance defence and intelligence capabilities within German territory. Under the terms of the agreement, Germany will leverage IAI’s state-of-the-art Heron TP UAVs to support a wide range of defence and intelligence missions across both land and sea, including the demonstration of new capabilities and technologies. The deployment is scheduled to commence in the upcoming year.

 

 

The agreement encompasses not only the deployment of advanced UAV technology but also includes comprehensive updates and technological enhancements to the ground array of the systems. The agreement reflects the result of extensive deliberations and cooperation on multiple fronts, highlighting their shared commitment to addressing the evolving security landscape.

The deployment of the Heron TP UAVs in Germany signifies a milestone achievement for Israel Aerospace Industries, reinforcing its position as a leading provider of cutting-edge aerospace and defence solutions on the global stage. This collaboration sets the stage for continued innovation and collaboration in addressing the ever-evolving challenges in the defence sector.

Israeli sources said that the deal will enable the strategic UAVs to be equipped with additional payloads and advanced systems designed to distribute the data collected by the UAV to many “clients.”

 

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The IAI Heron TP is a multi-role, advanced, long-range Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV for strategic missions. It is equipped with automatic taxi-takeoff and landing systems (ATOL), satellite communication (SATCOM) for extended range, fully redundant avionics, and more.

The Heron TP was designed as a multi-mission platform to address local and international customers’ needs and to perform a variety of strategic missions, including intelligence gathering, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance, using various payloads, with a high level of reliability.

The Heron TP has a max takeoff weight of 5670 kg and can carry a payload of up to 2700 kg. This UAV has a wingspan of 26 meters and a 30-hour endurance.

Sources here said that the added capabilities for the German Heron TP will include different versions of the IAI Mission Operation and Intelligence Center (MOIC). Centralized command and control are essential when engaged in UAV missions, to manage the huge amounts of data collected from observation, radar, COMINT, and ELINT. IAI’s state-of-the-art Mission Operation and Intelligence Center (MOIC) is an all-in-one headquarters that meets these needs.

 

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According to the Israeli company, MOIC’s modular layout, which includes mission operational cells, a commander cell, an exploitation center, a C2 cell, a full trainer, a SATCOM facility, a support facility, and a data storage center, provides the ability to adjust the control center according to specific operational needs.

By placing all pilots, mission operators, ISR analysts, and decision-makers at a single, central location, the MOIC provides a common operational picture and enables integrated management of multiple UAV platforms and payloads, or a UAV fleet and manned platforms. In doing so, it maximizes the efficiency of mission flow and improves real-time operation and coordination of the fleet, while also improving safety and protecting ground assets.

The MOIC also conserves manpower and resources that would otherwise be required to process huge quantities of data from multiple offline and online sensors, processing it in real time, and archiving all raw and processed information for future analysis.

 

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