A forthcoming Canadian defence ministry move to lease an Israel Aerospace Industries Heron unmanned air vehicle is expected to see the aircraft deployed in support of its forces in Afghanistan.

A two-year, $95 million deal, with delivery scheduled for 2009, is expected to be signed soon with prime contractor MacDonald Dettwiler Associates (MDA) of Vancouver.

IAF Heron 1 W445
 © IAI

Canada's links to IAI have been officially linked to civil missions. But sources close to the programme say the Heron, which was demonstrated to the Canadians in a series of flights beginning on 12 March, will also be used for "national defence".

The sources say an MDA team will operate the UAV from a base at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan.

The Heron is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV that can operate at a distance of more than 1,000km (540nm) and at altitudes above 25,000ft (7,620m) for more than 24h.



Source: Flight International