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Tue, Dec 15, 2009

1st IAI-Made Heron UAS Delivered To RAAF

System Will Support Royal Australian Air Force Troops In Afghanistan

The first Heron Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) was delivered  to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)December 10th through the Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. The Heron UAS, made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), includes an aircraft, mission payloads, Advanced Ground Control Station (AGCS), spare parts, and ground support equipment.

Heron File Photo

Many distinguished guests attended the delivery ceremony, including the Canadian military attache, Col. Geordie Elms; the Australian military attache, Col. Wayne Fleming; the Canadian senior trade commissioner, Catherine Gosselin; as well as representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Defense, MDA, and IAI management.

The Australian Department of Defense (DOD) awarded a contract to MDA to supply Heron systems to Australia for operations by the RAAF in support of troops deployed in Afghanistan for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) missions, as part of Project NANKEEN. The Heron was chosen from among a number of UAS competitors, after successfully completing a series of tests, for its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The Heron system delivered today will start operations in early 2010 for one year, with the option to extend for an additional two years.

Itzhak Nissan, President and CEO of IAI, said: "We are proud that the Australian DOD has selected the Heron as its 'eyes in the skies' in Afghanistan. IAI and MDA both contributed to supply the high quality UAS efficiently and to the customer's satisfaction. IAI regards the Royal Australian Air Force to be an important and esteemed user."

At the delivery ceremony, David Marriott, Project Manager at MDA, said: "The partnership between IAI and MDA has brought us to this proud moment. The UAS will soon be operational in Afghanistan."

Col. Wayne Fleming, the Australian military attache, said at the ceremony: "Australia is looking forward to the UAS supporting our troops in Afghanistan."

The Heron UAS, a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV, can remain airborne for over 30 hours with a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet and an ability to carry a payload of approximately 550 pounds. The Heron has a wingspan of 54.5 feet, a takeoff weight of 2645 lbs, an operational range of several hundred miles, an automatic takeoff and landing system, and is well suited to the challenging climate and conditions of Afghanistan.

FMI: www.iai.co.il

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