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IAI Touts Australian Heron UAV Extension

> original title:

Heron UAS Will Operate In Australia Following A Successful Service In Afghanistan

(Source: Israel Aerospace Industries; issued Oct 30, 2014)

Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Heron unmanned aerial system (UAS) will return to Australia from Afghanistan, as part of a plan to ensure that Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) pilots maintain the necessary skills to operate unmanned aerial systems until the introduction of their future UAS- Triton.

"The Heron is a proven capability- providing ‘eyes in the sky' for our troops in the Middle East" announced Australian Minister of Defense Senator David Johnston. "The retention of the Heron systems following their withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year will ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of this advancing technology. This is prudent planning for possible future defense scenarios."

Once back in Australia, the Heron UASs will be used for training purposes; providing Australia with greater opportunities for training, and developing robust tactics, techniques and procedures for operating complex UAS platforms. This will also aid integration [of the UASs] into Australian airspace. The Heron can also be used at the request of state governments for civilian roles, such as assistance during natural disasters.

Joseph Weiss, IAI's president and CEO said: "The Australian government announcement is an acknowledgment and expression of faith in the Heron system's capabilities and its added value to the RAAF".

In 2009, the Australian Department of Defense (DOD) awarded a contract to MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), a Canadian company, 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 project is due to continue in Australia for several additional years.

The Heron MALE (medium altitude, long endurance) UAS recorded over 220,000 flying hours worldwide.