July 27 (UPI) — An unmanned aerial vehicle made in Israel for Germany’s Defense Ministry completed its first successful flight, builder Israel Aerospace Industries announced.
The Heron TP, modified to the specifications of the German Defense Ministry, completed its first flight on Sunday in Israel, the company said.
The medium altitude, long endurance Heron TP, regarded as the company’s most advanced drone, can be used for reconnaissance and support roles, and can fire air-to-ground missiles.
With a maximum takeoff weight of 11,365 pounds, the vehicle has a 54-foot wingspan and can carry a payload of over 2,200 pounds. It is based on the Eitan UAV in use by the Israel Air Force.
The German and Israeli defense ministries signed a nine-year, $ 600 million agreement in 2018 to lease an unknown number of UAVs. The contract covers training, support and maintenance, with 35 two-man teams from Germany training in Israel to operate the drones.
The aerial vehicles will serve as a stopgap prior to the introduction of a European-made system, officials say.
“IAI is pleased to mark this important milestone in the Heron TP project for Germany,” Moshe Levy, of IAI, said in a press release. “We thank our partners in the Ministry of Defense and Airbus Group,for their cooperation in this project — a result of which we are going to provide the German Air Force with a system tailored to its operational needs and requirements.”