Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced an improved version of its Heron medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 29 January, saying it will be displayed during the Singapore Airshow in February.
Avi Blesser, vice president of marketing at IAI's Military Aircraft Group, told reporters that the Heron MK II has a wider body and new engine that increases the original Heron's rate of climb by 50%, its maximum speed from 120 kt to 140 kt, and maximum take-off weight from 1,200 kg with a 450 kg payload to 1,350 kg with a 470 kg payload.
The wider body "gives us the possibility of adding more sensors and more payloads on the same platform and to get many more layers [of intelligence] to the battlefield," Blesser said.
He listed possible payloads as SAR radars, electro-optical sensors, electronic and signals intelligence sensors, and sonar buoys for detecting submarines.
The Heron MK II also comes with more automation, Blesser stressed, including the ability to land and take-off from airstrips that do not have ground stations capable of controlling the UAV and flying itself to its mission area.
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