Germany has signed a one-year contract extension to a long-running arrangement with Airbus Defence & Space for operations using Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1 unmanned air vehicles.

To run until early 2019, the continued relationship includes the provision of UAVs and related equipment and personnel to support the German military's operations in Afghanistan and Mali.

Meanwhile, IAI has demonstrated the ability for the Heron to automatically land at and take off from remote airstrips by using a satellite communications system. The company says the capability will generate substantial savings related to command stations and flying staff requirements, and provide operators with new options for routine and emergency landings.

IAI cites a maximum flight endurance of 52h for its Heron 1, which can be operated at altitudes up to 35,000ft, depending on its payload and required flight profile.