In modern warfare, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, have become essential tools, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has a significant role with its HERON UAS. These systems have evolved from intelligence and reconnaissance tools to multifunctional platforms. The Heron, with a 17-meter wingspan, is the size of a small aircraft.
On October 7, 2023, the Heron UAS arrived in Gaza at 07:15, providing situational awareness at higher command levels. The drone’s sensors and communications were used to collect information and create a situational picture, helping the IAF command respond effectively to real-time threats.
The Heron’s remote vehicle control station has communication systems for real-time communication with ground and air forces. It includes a classified operating column for sensors and connection and creation of real-time intelligence information. The Heron drones were dispatched after the attacks on October 7 to collect and monitor the situation and develop an action plan.
The use of a force mix of tactical and heavier Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAS platforms enabled increased mission intensity on October 7. IAI has been a pioneer in unmanned systems for over four decades, developing a range of UAS in the HERON family, conforming to stringent military airworthiness standards.
The IAF operates Heron UAS for strategic, operational, and maritime surveillance missions, carrying payloads for surveillance and intelligence-gathering. These systems play a pivotal role in Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, operating various sensor payloads simultaneously to gather real-time intelligence. Their adaptability in various environmental conditions demonstrates their operational versatility.
The Heron and Heron TP platforms perform surveillance sorties for hours at a time and have over 2,100,000 operational flight hours. These systems continue to play a crucial role in gathering intelligence and aiding targeted acquisition in challenging and hostile environments. IAI’s President and CEO Boaz Levy emphasized their commitment to innovation and excellence in warfare, showcasing the operational versatility and adaptability of the HERON UAS.
In the face of the October 7 challenges, the HERON UAS demonstrated its strategic importance by providing real-time intelligence and supporting targeted acquisitions, showcasing IAI’s commitment to the IDF and security forces.