Germany Grants Special Permission to Israel for Using Leased Heron-TP UAV in the Hamas War

By Arie Egozi

Defence Industry

Tel Aviv: Germany gave Israel special permission to use the Heron-TP UAV that it leases from Israel in the war. The leased UAV’s are in an Israeli Air Force base where German crews are training. Two of the leased UAV are still in the Israeli Air Force base.

Israeli sources said that the armed UAV’s will support the massive UAV attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza. The Heron –TP is the largest UAV developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The strategic UAV was modified according to the needs and requirements of the German Ministry of Defence. It is the result of a joint program led by the UAV Executive Office in the Directorate of Defence Research and Development (DDR&D) of the Israel Ministry of Defence (IMoD), Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Airbus DS Airborne Solutions, an Airbus Group company.

The agreement between the respective ministries was signed in June 2018. The agreement outlines the leasing of a number of UAVs as well as maintenance and training services. As such, German Air Force personnel are training together with their Israeli counterparts in an IAF base in central Israel.

The contract is for the lease of seven Heron-TP UAV. These are intended to support German operations in Africa And Asia. The UAV have been leased for a period of nine years and are capable of carrying “unique air-to-ground missiles”, according to German sources.

According to the German Defence Ministry, these weapons are capable of aborting their trajectory towards the target in case civilians may be hurt. The arming of the MALE UAV was in the hearth of the internal debate in Germany before the deal was approved.

German sources said that during the negotiations “several options to use Israeli developed weapons have been evaluated”.

The IAI Heron-TP is a multi-role, advanced, long range Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for strategic missions. It is equipped with automatic taxi-takeoff and landing systems (ATOL), satellite communication (SATCOM) for extended range, fully redundant avionics and more.

The Heron-TP was designed as a multi-mission platform to address local and international customers’ needs and to perform a variety of strategic missions, including intelligence gathering, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, using various payloads, with a high level of reliability.

The Heron-TP is 14 metres long  has a wing span of 26 meters and a max t/o weight of 5670 kg. It can carry a  payload weighing 2700 kg. Maximum ceiling is 45,000 feet, maximum speed is 220 knots and endurance is 30 hours.