The Heron (Mahatz) MALE UAV system has been developed by IAI / Malat,
to carry out strategic reconnaissance and
surveillance. Initially deployed with the Indian defense forces, for
high altitude land surveillance and maritime patrol missions, the
Heron has been acquired by the Israel Air Force and Turkish defense
Forces, for similar applications.
In May 2005 IAI announced the Turkish procurement contract worth $150
million, under which a joint company owned equally by IAI and Elbit
Systems will be subcontracted by the Turkish TUSAS Aerospace Industry
(TAI) to supply Heron UAVs, Elbit Systems ground systems and payloads
for the Turkish MOD. Another contract worth of $50 million was signed
with Israel MOD for the supply of Heron UAVs and multi-year support.
According to IAI, the delivery of the first system is imminent. The
IAF designation of the new UAV will be "Shoval" (Trail in
Hebrew). It will replace the Searcher I and II currently in service.
A derivative of the Heron named Eagle was selected by the French Air
Force, to provide strategic and theater reconnaissance, intelligence
collection and communications support. It is also expected to operate
in the maritime surveillance and anti-surface warfare role. The UAV is powered by a 115 hp Rotax 914 engine
and is designed to operate on missions of over 40 hours at an altitude
of 30,000 feet. It can carry multiple payloads at a total weight of
An enhanced version of the Heron, called Heron TP or
Eitan, is developed for the Israel Air
vehicles are fully autonomous throughout the mission, including the
automatic takeoff and landing phases. The vehicle is designed to carry
multiple payloads, and perform multiple missions, such as COMINT,
SIGINT and IMINT or SAR, IMINT and communications relay etc. Eagle can
carry several types of sensors, including maritime patrol radar (MPR),
different types of SAR/MTI, EO/IR payloads, SIGINT, COMINT, laser
designator, communications relays etc.