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Singapore Airshow 2024: Singapore to replace fleet of Heron 1, Hermes 450 UAVs

A Republic of Singapore Air Force Heron 1 UAV, seen at Paya Lebar Air Base in September 2023. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will be replacing its fleet of Heron 1 and Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as part of the service's renewal plans.

In a statement made ahead of the Singapore Airshow 2024, which is held from 20 to 25 February, the RSAF's outgoing chief, Major General Kelvin Khong, noted that UAVs will continue to play a key role in providing airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

β€œOur existing Hermes 450 and Heron 1 UAVs have been in service since 2007 and 2012 respectively, and the RSAF plans to replace them,” said General Khong, who will step down from the service's helm in March 2024.

β€œThe RSAF has been keeping pace with UAV developments around the world, and our renewal plans will carefully select and assess UAV platforms that will best suit our operational requirements,” he said, adding that details on these are being worked out.

The Heron 1 is operated by the the RSAF's 119 and 128 squadrons and was first inaugurated by the service in May 2012 to progressively replace its fleet of IAI Searcher UAVs that entered service in the mid-1990s.

It has an overall length of 8.8 m, a wingspan of 16.6 m, a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 1,100 kg, and a payload capacity of 250 kg. With an endurance of more than 24 hours, the platform can attain a maximum operating range of about 200 km, and achieve cruise speeds between 60 and 70 kt.

Full operational capability (FOC) for the Heron 1 was declared in 2017.

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