Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is exhibiting at the ILA Berlin air show as its Heron TP system nears entry into service with the German military.

On static display during the 5-9 June event, the medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) will be operated under a lease deal headed by prime contractor Airbus Defence & Space.

IAI has already delivered the first of five on-order Heron TPs, with the asset having performed a debut flight in national airspace in mid-May. Certification is already in place with the German Military Aviation Authority.

Heron TP side ILA 2024

Source: Craig Hoyle/FlightGlobal

Germany’s army will operate the Heron TP under a lease deal headed by Airbus Defence & Space

The next two UAVs will be delivered in around two months’ time, Moshe Levy, general manager of IAI’s Military Aircraft Group, tells FlightGlobal. Once transferred, these will enable the customer to reach initial operational capability with the system. The two other aircraft will initially support personnel training conducted in Israel.

Also including related ground control station equipment, spare parts and support, the deal is due to run for up to 11 years. This will cover the period until a European-developed Eurodrone is due to enter service for partner nations France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Named the Heron GHTP by IAI – with the GH designation referring to Germany – the large UAV is equipped with an electro-optical sensor and synthetic aperture radar/ ground moving target indication payload.

Levy notes that in addition to its current configuration for the German army, the Heron TP platform can be equipped with sensors to support applications including signals intelligence, plus maritime surveillance.

Heron TP front ILA 2024

Source: Craig Hoyle/FlightGlobal

Medium-altitude, long-endurance type carries electro-optical and synthetic aperture radar payloads

He believes the nation could yet move to buy the aircraft outright, and potentially also increase the size of its commitment.

“They are talking about additional aircraft,” he says. “Five is not a lot for a squadron, and we are talking about a gap of more than 10 years.”

Pointing to the Bundeswehr’s previous use of the Heron 1 UAV in Afghanistan, he notes: “We have been working with Germany for many years; it is one of our most important customers.”

Indeed, underscoring the European nation’s importance to IAI as a market, the company describes Berlin’s order for its Arrow-3 air-defence battery – its first export sale of the system – “as the largest [international] defence deal in Israel’s history”.

Referring to Israel’s defensive engagement against more than 300 missiles and drones which were launched against its territory by Iran on 14 April, IAI chairman Amir Peretz notes: “the world has learned that we can provide the maximum protection against the severest of threats”.