This is the perfect example of combining an operational requirement and technology.
The Israeli air force (IAF) is a major operator of unmanned air systems (UAS). Until recently there was a “man in the loop” – mainly in the shape of an external pilot, in charge of the take-off and landing of some of the systems.
But not surprisingly, humans are losing some of their traditional jobs. This first happened in commercial aviation, when navigators and flight engineers were made redundant from cockpits, and now the trend has reached UAS.
The IAF is equipping all its Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron 1 (Shoval) UAS with an automatic take-off and landing system.
This will make the task of the external pilot redundant, and he will control take-off and landing only in “special” circumstances.
As reported by Flight International, the process began a few years ago, and will be completed by year-end.
The Heron 1 UAS is used extensively by the IAF for a variety of missions, including maritime patrol.
The automatic take-off and landing system installed in the Heron 1 is similar to the one installed in the Heron TP (Eitan) – the largest and heaviest UAS in the IAF inventory.
Lt Col Ziv, head of the UAS branch in the IAF’s weapons systems department, told the IAF magazine that the automatic system in the Heron 1 will give the UAS greater operational flexibility and increase operational safety.