Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will introduce the XP version of its Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at this year’s Aero India show in Bangalore (14th-18th February). The Heron TP-XP is a special export version of the Heron TP, which has been in service with the Israel Air Force since 2010. IAI describes it as a multi-mission, multi-payload strategic aircraft.
Indian forces already operate unarmed Heron UAVs (along with other, smaller IAI drones) and has reportedly ordered the upgraded Heron TP variant, which can carry air-to-ground weapons. Germany has also selected the Heron TP as an interim solution pending the arrival of Europe’s own MALE solution.
Shaul Shahar, IAI Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group, explains that the Heron TP-XP “introduces air supremacy at a higher level than currently exists in India, with an emphasis on double flight speed, high altitude and enhanced payload capability.” He adds that the new version “opens up additional opportunities by allowing us to expand the range of solutions we can offer to our customers”.
The announcement follows IAI’s official launch of another new Heron-based UAV in June last year — the Caçador which has been tailored to the specific requirements of Brazil. Caçador is equipped with a wideband satellite communication channel for a range over 1,000 km from its command and control station. It can fly for more than 40 hours at an altitude of up to 30,000 feet.