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Israel unveils new Oron intel aircraft

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) announced the arrival of its new Oron intelligence-gathering aircraft on 4 April after it landed at Nevatim Air Base.

The Oron touches down at Nevatim Air Base. (Israeli Air Force)

The Oron touches down at Nevatim Air Base. (Israeli Air Force)

The Oron is a Gulfstream G550 business jet that will have its mission systems installed over the next two years, the IAF said. This process will be led by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), the IAF, the Intelligence Directorate, and the Israeli Navy.

It will be equipped with an advanced active electronically scanned-array (AESA) radar produced by IAI subsidiary Elta, as well as electro-optical and signals intelligence (SIGINT) sensors and advanced data-processing systems.

“We created a machine that knows how to produce and expose thousands of targets in seconds,” Brigadier General Yaniv Rotem, the DDR&D’s head of military research and development said. “It absorbs thousands of kilometres of territory at a precision designed for attack.”

Referring to countries that do not directly border Israel, IAF commander Major General Amikam Norkin said, “The Oron will strengthen our superiority and strengthen our capabilities in second-tier and third-tier countries.”

The aircraft will be operated by the IAF’s 122nd ‘Nachshon’ squadron, which currently flies the Shavit SIGINT and the Eitam airborne early warning and control aircraft, both of which are also modified G550s.

Avishai Izhakian, deputy general manager of Elta’s Airborne Systems and Radars Division, told Janes that the Eitam’s external configuration was used for the Oron to shorten the development time. However, the new aircraft is significantly more capable as it can operate over both land and sea. “It’s a multibranch aircraft that is designed to serve a range of services,” he said.

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