Australia poised to receive first Heron UAVs

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Australian personnel deployed in Afghanistan will soon receive their first Israel Aerospace Industries Heron medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicles, with the first system to be delivered on 10 December.

In September, IAI won a contract from Canadian firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates to supply leased Heron surveillance systems after a selection by the Australian Department of Defence.

Heron air vehicles will support deployed Australian forces in Afghanistan under Project Nankeen, with the system to be operated by the Royal Australian Air Force. The new system will significantly boost Canberra's deployed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability in the country.

This is the first time Australia has deployed a MALE UAV in Afghanistan, and the Heron system will become operational in early 2010 for one year. Options also exist to potentially extend the arrangement by two more years.

 
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Canada already operates leased Heron UAVs from Kandahar airfield

Heron systems are already in use in Afghanistan as part of Canadian and French commitments to operations against the Taliban.