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Israeli official details new intel aircraft

The Israeli Air Force’s (IAF’s) new Oron intelligence-gathering aircraft will be the first of its kind to integrate data from its advanced radar and electronic/communications intelligence (ELINT/COMINT) sensors to simultaneously identify thousands of targets, a senior Israeli defence official has told Janes.

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

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

The IAF announced the arrival of the aircraft on 4 April after it landed at Nevatim Air Base, but Brigadier General Yaniv Rotem, head of military research and development at the Ministry of Defense’s Directorate for Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), provided new information about the project to Janes.

The Oron is a G550 business jet that was made for the IAF by Gulfstream in the United States. It was modified for the IAF in Savannah, Georgia: a process that included the addition of the side panels that will house its radar arrays. This was followed by flight testing and certification, with water being used to simulate the weight of the mission systems that were simultaneously being developed in Israel, before it was flown to Nevatim.

The mission systems are now being fitted and the initial operating capability is expected in 18 months. “We are assembling one on-board system at a time and flying after each installation to see that we’re meeting the plane’s performance objectives,” Gen Rotem said. “Then we will start connecting the systems together.”

Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI’s) Elta group is developing the aircraft’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Avishai Izhakian, deputy general manager of Elta’s Airborne Systems and Radars Division, told Janes the AESA radar is “ground-breaking” as it has the ability to scan thousands of kilometres in seconds “at very high resolutions” from a high altitude.

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