The use of unmanned air systems (UAS) in the Israeli airforce (IAF) is at an all-time high. One by one they are actually changing the “landscape” of many airbases.
With UAS in such a wide usage and employing a growing variety of systems, issues that once exclusively concerned manned squadrons are now becoming relevant to unmanned aircraft.
As a result the IAF is currently evaluating the maintenance of its UAS. The aim is to decide whether the IAF should perform the maintenance itself, or leave it in the hands of the manufacturers.
Israeli manufacturers of UAS – mainly Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems – currently perform the heavy maintenance of the systems that are in operational use by the IAF. These are the IAI Heron and Heron TP, and Elbit’s Hermes-450 and Hermes-900.
A maintenance unit of the IAF is currently performing the maintenance evaluation and the results are expected soon.
A source in the unit said that the accumulated experience – especially in relation to fatigue problems – is unique. “But we try to see the whole picture and then make a decision.”
As I mentioned the evaluation is a result of a dramatic rise in the use of UAS in the IAF. This will grow further in the coming years as new systems and payloads are developed.