Palmahim Air Base, Israel: The Israeli Air Force has officially unveiled the Heron, it's first long-range unmanned aerial vehicle, which will be capable of carrying out reconnaissance missions at extended ranges of thousands of kilometers.
Israeli air force chief, Major General Eliezer Shkedi, has described the induction of the Heron as a major leap forward for the Israel Defence Forces. Though just unveiled, Israeli sources have let it be known that early versions of the drone were deployed during the clash with the Hezbollah last year. During the battle, it was successfully used for a variety of tasks including live intelligence gathering and locating rocket launchers, intensively used by the Hezbollah.
According to reports, the drone is capable of flying at altitudes of 30,000 feet, for 30 hours at a stretch, with an operating range of 3,300 kilometres (2,000 miles). Israeli defence sources say that its satellite navigation system marks out the Heron as a new generation in the development of drones.
Israeli defence service personnel have been quoted as saying that the Heron can carry out missions that they would not have imagined earlier. According to these sources, this is due mainly to its silent engine and state-of-the-art systems.
Interestingly, the Heron's extended range and long endurance would also bring arch foe Iran within its surveillance ambit.