French military officials will acquire the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron TP unmanned air system to fill an interim need for a medium-altitude, long-endurance surveillance vehicle.

The twin-boomed UAS, with 35h endurance, beat a rival bid from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems based on the Predator B.

The selection was announced after a meeting on 20 July by France's Ministerial Committee for Investment. French officials will now enter negotiations with Dassault, IAI's partner, to finalise the contract.


 © Israel Aerospace Industries

The Heron TP, with a 26m (82ft) wingspan, will replace the smaller Heron 1, with a 16.6m wingspan, in French military operations through at least 2020. The French version of the Heron 1 is named the Harfang.

Beyond 2020, the French military plans to transition to a new UAS jointly developed by Dassault and BAE Systems of the UK as part of a cooperation agreement signed last November.

The Heron TP is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engine. It can take-off with a maximum weight of 4,650kg (10,250lb), including 1,000kg of payload.

IAI has designed the Heron TP to carry multiple payloads at the same time, including electro-optical sensors, synthetic aperture radar, maritime patrol radar, communications intelligence systems and electronic support measures.

Source: Flight International