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Heron TP makes maiden German flight

The GHTP lifts off from Jagel for its maiden flight in German airspace. (IAI)

The Luftwaffe has flown the first of its leased Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) on its maiden flight in German airspace on 15 May.

Announced by the Bundeswehr, Airbus Defence and Space as the lead contractor for the programme, and IAI, the milestone saw the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operating out of its future home station of Jagel (also known as Schleswig Air Base) in the far north of Germany.

Known as the German Heron TP (GHTP), the UAS was awarded a type certificate by the German Military Aviation Authority in late 2022, at which time it was operated out of an undisclosed location in Israel.

The GHTP is intended to bridge the gap between the retirement of the earlier Heron 1 UAS and the introduction of the new European MALE UAS known as Eurodrone, with Airbus Defence and Space operating five air vehicles out to 2027.

The UAV is configured with electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensors and imaging radar systems to support intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks. Specifically, the aircraft has been cleared to carry the IAI (Tamam) M-19HD EO sensor turret, which includes zoom and spotter high-definition (HD) day cameras, an HD IR zoom camera, laser designator, laser rangefinder, laser pointer, near-IR laser illuminator, electron-multiplying charge-coupled device camera, and shortwave IR camera. Satellite communications (satcom) and Bundeswehr data/voice encryption systems are also part of the mission fit.

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