Germany buys 140 Heron TP combat drone from Israel

Heron TP UCAV
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After years of deliberation, German defense committee approves the acquisition of 140 Heron TP (Eitan) armed drones from Israel, in a contract worth $165 million.

Amid the Russia-Ukraine war, Unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) is the latest weapon that the German Ministry of Defense has put on its shopping list, after modern equipment such as F-35 fighters and Eurofighter jets.

The German parliament on April 6 approved a plan to buy 140 Heron TP armed drones from Israel. The contract is worth $ 165 million sources said.

The aircraft will be delivered to Berlin within two years. Of these, 60 will be used in training, while 80 will be deployed in combat operations.

Germany is also mulling acquiring an anti-missile shield system from Israel. The Arrow 3 system, costing around two billion euros ($2.2 billion), is powerful enough to offer protective cover for neighboring EU nations.

“The security situation in Europe has essentially changed with the attack of Russia on Ukraine,” the defense ministry said in a position paper put to the parliamentary committee and seen by AFP.

“In order to counter the new threat, the Bundeswehr’s equipment must be upgraded without delay, including in particular the arming of the Heron drones. The need is absolutely necessary because serious state interests of a political nature would be otherwise compromised and this is not acceptable.”

Germany’s armed forces have until now only been allowed to deploy unarmed drones for reconnaissance purposes, leaving other allies to use weaponized unmanned combat aerial vehicles in the field.

“In order to counter the new threat, the Bundeswehr’s equipment must be upgraded without delay, including in particular the arming of the Heron drones. The need is absolutely necessary because serious state interests of a political nature would be otherwise compromised and this is not acceptable.”

Germany’s armed forces have until now only been allowed to deploy unarmed drones for reconnaissance purposes, leaving other allies to use weaponized unmanned combat aerial vehicles in the field.

But the devices have come back on the military’s shopping list as Chancellor Olaf Scholz, himself a Social Democrat, announced a massive spending spree to equip Germany militarily after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offensive in Ukraine

Scholz had announced in a landmark speech three days after Russian troops marched into Ukraine that Germany would set aside a special budget of 100 billion euros ($109 million) for the military, as well as use more than two percent of its output on defense annually.

About Heron TP (Eitan) UCAV

The Heron TP UCAV, which is based on the original Heron design, has a wingspan of just under 26m, length of 14m, and the aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 5,400kg with a typical mission payload of 2,700kg. The UCAV is powered by  Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A , 900 kW (1,200 hp) which powers a four-blade propeller. The long wingspan and the extra power give the UCAV much better endurance, range and altitude than Heron 1.

According to officials the Heron TP has an operational altitude of 46,000ft and is capable of missions of more than 36 hours duration. The UAV has been designed to meet Israel Defence Force (IDF) requirements for a MALE UAV and made its first flights in 2006 at around the time of the Farnborough Air Show.

The system has been dubbed Eitan by the Israel Air Force and is primarily being envisioned for the intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition role, after the IAF proved its concept of operations in Lebanon war 2006. However, the IDF is believed to be exploring a number of other roles for the aircraft including as an element in a future missile defence system.

The Heron TP has a large payload capacity within its central body and can be fitted with a range of sensors. The UAV has a range of datalinks and is supported for both line of sight and beyond line of sight communications.

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