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Indian Air Force inducts Heron Mk II

India's induction of four IAI Heron Mk IIs augments the country's unmanned capabilities along its border areas. (HAL/IAI/Janes)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted four Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron Mk II medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance operations in India's northern sector, which has borders with both China and Pakistan, a senior officer of the service told Janes on 14 August.

The officer confirmed that the four Heron Mk II units will be equipped with long-range observation sensors and radars, and carry additional payloads related to electronic support measures (ESM), communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), and communication relay.

Developed by IAI, the Heron Mk II has a length of 8.5 m, wingspan of 16.6 m, and a payload capacity of 490 kg. According to company specifications, the UAV has a maximum take-off weight of 1,430 kg, an endurance of 45 hours, service ceiling of 35,000 ft, and a maximum speed of 150 kt.

Janes reported in October 2022 that discussions were under way for a proposal to manufacture the Heron Mk II in India under licence, possibly in collaboration with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). At the time, IAI was in the process of delivering a batch of the Heron Mk II – an estimated 10 units – to the IAF and the Indian Army.

IAI said the Heron Mk II is used by the Israeli Air Force and more than 20 other organisations worldwide.

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