According to a tweet from Israel’s Defense Ministry has signed an agreement with the Hellenic Ministry of National Defense to lease several Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron UAVs to Greece for border defense. The agreement, signed digitally by Defense Ministry director general, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Udi Adam and general director for Defence Investments and Armament – Lt.-Gen. (Ret.) Theodoros Lagios (HAF) in light of the coronavirus pandemic, is the first between the two ministries.
As part of the agreement, the Heron system in its maritime configuration will be leased to Greece for three years with the option to purchase the system at the end of the leasing period. The two drones will be used to bolster the country’s intelligence gathering abilities and will act as a deterrent to Turkey, which has deployed drones to the Evros region and Aegean Sea that borders the two countries. The system is operational in the Israel Defense Forces naval forces around the world and has demonstrated its capabilities in Greece as well.
The IAI Heron (Machatz-1) is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours’ duration at up to 10.5 km (35,000 ft). It has demonstrated 52 hours of continuous flight, but the effective operational maximal flight duration is less, according to payload and flight profile. An advanced version, the Heron TP, is also known as the IAI Eitan.
The Heron navigates using an internal GPS navigation device, and either a pre-programmed flight profile, manual override from a ground control station, or a combination of both. It can autonomously return to base and land in case of lost communication with the ground station. The system has fully automatic launch and recovery (ALR) and all-weather capabilities. The Heron can carry an array of sensors, including thermographic camera (infrared) and visible-light airborne ground surveillance, intelligence systems (COMINT and ELINT) and various radar systems, totaling up to 250 kg (550 lb). The Heron is also capable of target acquisition and artillery adjustment.