Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Heron TP, also known as the Eitan is now operational with the Israel Air Force (IAF).
The Eitan has a wingspan of approximately 26 meters (similar to the wingspan of a Boeing 737 aircraft or the Northrop Grumman RQ4 Global Hawk) and is designed to meet the demanding civil aviation authorities’ certification requirements in force both in Israel and internationally.
Air Force commander Major General Ido Nehushtan, IAF says “the Eitan aircraft officially [has entered] into operational service in the IAF. The Eitan’s impressive weight and wingspan put the aircraft in the “heavy UAV” category – a reflection of its significance on the battlefield, its ability to complete a variety of IAF long-range missions, and its critical role in air force missions covering a broad array of scenarios.
“I would like to take this opportunity,” Nehushtan continued, “to acknowledge all of the participants in this undertaking: “Mafat” (Administration of Research and Development of Fighting Means and Technological Infrastructure), the IAF Air Combat Systems Division, and of course our steadfast partners in securing our country – the Israeli defence industries, which have developed and contributed countless new technologies and systems, reflecting some of our most unique and essential operational capabilities. Your creativity and capabilities know no bounds, and for that there is no substitute. Well done!”
The general added “the introduction of the Eitan into operational service signifies an important milestone for the IAF’s lineup of UAVs, which are essential to almost every operation the IAF executes.”
Itzhak Nissan, President and CEO of IAI, noted the “Eitan UAV represents a quantum leap in technology on an international scale. The technological advancements embodied in it are something that the State of Israel and IAI are extremely proud of. Within the Eitan IAI has incorporated cutting-edge technology and decades of hands-on operational experience.
“The ‘Eitan’ joins the many other IAI UAV systems in use with the IAF, and provides a crucial contribution to IAF operational capabilities. The Eitan will act as the linchpin for the most complex missions the IAF will undertake,” he added.
“IAI UAVs are in service with dozens of nations the world over, and have acquired unprecedented amounts of operational experience. The ‘Heron 1’, for example, has been sold to more than 14 international customers. In the end this commercial success translates into added strength for the IDF and for Israel as a whole.
“I am certain that our success with the Eitan and our ongoing cooperation with the various branches of the IDF, Israel Ministry of Defense, and “Mafat” will yield further strategic projects,” Nissan added.
The Eitan can perform long-range missions of over 1000km and can remain airborne for over 24 consecutive hours. The UAV has a powerful turbo-prop engine (1200 horsepower), which allows it to reach altitudes of over 41,000 feet – higher than commercial aircraft normally fly. Takeoff weight is 5 tons and has the ability to carry payloads weighing approximately 1000 kg. The Eitan is configured using an open architecture, allowing for the integration of multiple mission payloads without the need for significant changes to the basic system, providing flexibility to its operators as required.