The Great Blue Heron


Israel Aerospace Industries immodestly calls the new Super Heron "the world's most advanced MALE or super-tactical UAV". Its resemblance to the earlier Heron is in its concept, configuration and legacy, but most of the technology inside is new. The Super Heron is larger than its predecessor, with a 3,200-pound take-off weight. The aircraft here has a 200 hp heavy-fuel engine from Diesel Jet, an Italian start-up that is developing aircraft Diesel engines based on Fiat commercial engines, but a gasoline engine is an option. The greater power (versus the 115 hp Rotax of the basic Heron) boosts rate of climb and cruise speed, from 110 kt to 150 kt. Endurance is 45 hours at 30,000 feet. Internally, a very important change is a new computer architecture with separate processors for mission equipment and flight control. Similar to the approach taken by Saab for the JAS 39E, this is expected to make it easier to install new sensors and functions.

blog post photo
Photo: Mike Vines

The aircraft is shown with a multisensor suite including the new 19-inch M-19HD electro-optical turret, synthetic aperture radar and a wide range of passive electronic sensors, including what IAI claims is a unique high-frequency direction finding system. It also has a new satellite communications antenna that incorporates a line-of-sight, narrow-beam, high-security link antenna on the same gimbal.

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