IAI Unveils More Capable Heron II At Singapore Airshow

Israel Aerospace Industries has unveiled in Singapore an updated and improved model of the Heron medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air system. The Heron MK 2 is powered by the Rotax 915 iS engine, replacing Rotax’s slightly less powerful 914 piston on the baseline version. The additional power increases the service ceiling to 35,000 ft., a 2,000-ft. improvement, and improves speed to 140 kt. from 112 kt. The Republic of Singapore Air Force has operated the baseline Heron version since 2012. The Republic of Singapore Air Force has operated the baseline Heron version since 2012.

A new version of the Heron Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone was unveiled by IAI at the Singapore Airshow.

Designated Heron MK II, the drone is the latest variant of IAI’s MALE family unveiled by IAI in 1994. The Heron is one of the world’s more popular MALE drones, operated by 20 air forces. In Asia, it is in service in Azerbaijan, India, Israel, Singapore and South Korea.

The new variant better address customers’ needs for multi-sensor configurations. While Heron II delivers the same performance as its predecessor, it can carry more payloads at heavier weights while maintaining its high performance throughout the mission. This is achieved with a stronger, wider fuselage to provide more space for payloads; a new engine specially modified for this mission; and new avionics with increased autonomy and processing power for systems on board.

The avionics architecture employs separated mission computers and flight control, enabling faster evolution of mission systems with increased safety for the flight systems. Heron II also incorporates an integral wideband satellite communications link with a backup channel serving multiple payloads simultaneously. For data-hungry applications using huge amounts of sensor information, users may opt to store information in the Heron II’s onboard server,  accessing only the information ‘nuggets’ they require.

The engine is a derivative of the aviation-certified, turbocharged Rotax 915iS modified specifically for IAI’s requirement for operations at high altitude. As a result, Heron II’s ceiling has increased to 35,000 ft, and the rate of climb improved 52% with maximum speed increased 27% to 140 knots. With maximum takeoff weight increased by 200 kg to 1,350 kg., mission endurance remains the same as its predecessor - almost two days (45 hours), carrying a useful payload of 470 kg, some 220 kg more than the previous version.