The Singapore air force has inaugurated the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle as a replacement for the IAI Searcher 2 UAV.

"The UAVs have realised the vision of [the Singapore armed force's] founding pioneers, but only through continued investments to develop this capability," says minister for defence Ng Eng Hen. "As a result, the SAF today is an advanced user of UAVs, which are used routinely in exercises as well as in operations."

In Singapore service the medium altitude long endurance (MALE) Heron 1 will be operated by 119 Sqn, says Singapore's defence ministry in a statement. It did not specify the number of aircraft the squadron will operate.

RSAF Heron 1
© Ministry of Defence, Singapore

"The Heron 1 provides us with enhanced situational awareness of the battlefield as it has better detection capability and three times the flight endurance of the Searcher UAV," says 119 Sqn commander Low Jun Hong. "It also gives us the ability to see things in colour as compared to the monochrome video system of the Searcher UAV. This allows us to detect targets that could not have been detected previously with the Searcher."

In 2010 Singapore deployed a pair of Searcher 2s and a team of over 50 to Afghanistan, where the type provided reconnaissance of the roads nearby Tarin Kowt air base in Uruzgan province.

Source: Flight International