An Israeli air force Heron TP "Eitan" unmanned air vehicle (UAV) crashed on 29 January after its wing broke in the air, the service's commander Maj Gen Ido Nehushtan said.
The accident occurred minutes after the medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft had taken off from an undisclosed base in central Israel for an experimental flight performed by the air force and Heron TP manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries. Sources have confirmed new payloads were being tested during the sortie.
A source close to the investigation said first indications suggested the UAV had crashed after exceeding the limitations of its flight envelope. Video footage hosted by Reuters showed the aircraft's wing being recovered using lifting gear.
© Israeli air force
The Israeli air force's largest operational UAV, the Heron TP has a maximum take-off weight of 4,650kg (10,200lb), including a payload of up to 1,000kg, with a 13m (43ft) fuselage and 26m wingspan. Capable of reaching an altitude of more than 45,000ft (14,000m), the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6 turboprop-engined type has an estimated maximum endurance of more than 70h.