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Luftwaffe declares Heron TP ready for Germany-based operations

Seen at the ILA 2024 Berlin Air Show, the Heron TP has now been cleared for global operations by the Luftwaffe. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The Luftwaffe has declared its leased Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) to be ready for Germany-based operations worldwide, with flights to commence in mid-May.

The Luftwaffe announced the milestone on 2 May, saying that the airworthiness certificate for the UAS had been signed by the German Federal Aviation Office in Cologne on the same day. β€œThe approval of our new reconnaissance drone is valid worldwide,” the service said, adding that flights will soon commence out of Jagel (also known as Schleswig Air Base) in the far north of the country.

The announcement follows the Heron TP being 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 Heron TP is intended to bridge the gap between the retirement of the earlier Heron 1 UAS and the introduction of the new European medium-altitude long-endurance UAS known as Eurodrone, with Airbus Defence and Space operating five air vehicles out to 2027.

The Heron TP 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 short-wave IR camera. Satellite communications and Bundeswehr data/voice encryption systems are also part of the mission fit.

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