The Israeli air force and navy are facing a short delay to the introduction of their Israel Aerospace Industries Heron/"Shoval" unmanned air vehicles, with the services close to completing the system's configuration.

The services now plan to field the UAV before the end of this year as a replacement for manned aircraft used during maritime patrol missions. They had previously expected the new type to enter operational use in mid-2009.

Heron UAV - IAI 
 © Israel Aerospace Industries

Shoval UAVs will gradually replace IAI Seascans, modified Westwind 1124 business jets, with the current type having been in use since 1978.

The air force and navy have not disclosed the final configuration for the unmanned system, but preliminary reports suggest that it will carry a similar payload to the Seascan. This should be an Elta Systems search radar and a Tamam stabilised long-range optical sensor. The mission controller will be an air force UAV operator, with the payload to be controlled by navy operators.

IAI's baseline Heron air vehicle has an endurance of over 40h at an altitude of 30,000ft (9,150m). It can carry multiple payloads with a total weight of 250kg (550lb).

Source: Flight International