Unmanned air systems will make a significant contribution in defending the huge gas reservoirs that have been discovered in the Mediterranean off the Israeli coast.
A senior source says that operational assessments made in recent months have determined that UAS will play a "major role" in surveillance tasks when gas begins to flow from the underwater reservoirs to the Israeli coast.
The mission of defending the gas reserves and pumping installations will be performed by the Israeli air force and navy.
Israel's air force currently uses its Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1 ("Shoval") for some maritime patrol missions, with navy personnel operating the type's control station from the coast. The number of such Heron 1 sorties flown will increase, while other platforms will also be used to provide enhanced capabilities.
An effort will be made to improve the dedicated sensors carried by Israel's UAS, with the source saying that synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indication payloads are also required. IAI's Elta Systems subsidiary has already supplied maritime radar and optical sensors, and its lightweight ELM-2055 payload could be carried by the Heron 1.