US top soldier requests demonstration of Israel’s Heron UAV
debkafile‘s military sources reveal that, during his two-day visit to Israel, Adm. Mike Mullen Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, showed interest in the Israel Aviations Industries’ long-range Heron unmanned aerial vehicles, which support IDF’s counter-terror and counter-missile operations in the Gaza Strip.
The demonstration took place on June 29 at the forward Israeli UAV base near its main operating arena in the South.
Our military sources describe the Heron as capable, in addition to intelligence-gathering and communications support, of delivering missiles (which Israel has never admitted). It is rated one the best unmanned aerial vehicles in the world for strategic and theater reconnaissance and electronic counter-measures.
Powered by a 115 hp Rotax 914 engine, the Heron can stay aloft for more than 40 hours at an altitude of 30,000 feet, while carrying multiple payloads of 250 kilos.
It is also equipped for a role in maritime surveillance and anti-surface warfare.
The US admiral heard from American intelligence officers cooperating with Ankara’s campaign against Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq how the Heron on loan to Turkey radically turned the tide of their operation.
The Israeli UAVs were described as smoothly functioning and easy to use compared with other drones of their kind. Mullen wanted to see the Heron in operational performance to judge its suitability for the US special forces fighting terrorist targets, who are looking for a UAV which handles more easily than the strategic, unmanned US Predator and Reaper.
The US Marines have also shown interest.