Israel’s IAI Heron UAV has successfully landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in civilian airspace earlier this week during a long-range test flight. The drone took off at the Ein Shemer airfield, which is about 31 miles northeast of Tel Aviv.
The test flight of the Heron drone was fully operated from the Ein Shemer control station at the airfield. The takeoff, flight, and landing were monitored and controlled from the remote location.
The flight was able to prove the maturity and safety of its Long Runner operating system working with the drone. The Long Runner operating system allows long-range missions of more than 932 miles to performed using satellites to keep the connection as well as automatic take-off and landing.
IAI shared that the Heron drone landed at a civilian airport among passengers and passenger planes. The company went on to say that this will be needed in the future of combat drones, and it is a “great achievement for IAI in the UAV arena.”
Israel Aerospace Industries Heron UAV
The IAI Heron combat drone is the same one currently being used by India in its ongoing border feud with China. India loves the drone so much that it is also converting its 90 Heron drones to support laser-guided missiles.
The IAI Heron drone has a wingspan of 54 feet 6 inches and a capacity of 551 pounds. The drone uses a Rotax 914 four-cylinder engine producing 115 horsepower. Heron has a maximum speed of 129 miles per hour and can stay in the air for up to 52 hours at a time. Fourteen countries, including the US and Australia, have used the Heron drones.
IAI has since shown off its Super Heron drone, which includes a 200 horsepower diesel engine that improves the climb rate and performance. It has a top speed of 170 miles per hour and cruises at around 69 to 92 miles per hour. The Super Heron is capable of flying up 160 miles away when flown in line of sight or 620 miles by satellite control. Still, it’s less than the Long Runner operating system now allows.
Photo: Israel Aerospace Industries