The German Parliament’s (Bundestag) Defense and Budgetary Committee approved the procurement of IAI Heron TP unmanned aircraft from Israel, on June 13, 2018.
Heron TP is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) developed by Israeli defence major, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
However, the approval for the tactical training to be given to the Bundeswehr soldiers in the operation of the aircraft, as well as the purchase of ammunition for the aircraft would require a separate referral by the German Bundestag to be conducted at a later date.
Since 2010, the Bundeswehr has been successfully using another Israeli drone, the Heron 1 MALE RPAS, for imaging and surveillance missions of the operational areas in Afghanistan and, since 2016, also in Mali.
Unlike Heron TP, Heron 1 is on the lower end of the performance scale of this class of aircraft. Heron TP has significant advantages compared to Heron 1, especially in terms of speed, range, sensor performance, and ability to be armed. This can optionally be realized with scalable, all-weather and stable precision ammunition.
In contrast to Heron TP, Heron 1 is used by the Bundeswehr exclusively as a reconnaissance drone. The system is not capable of being armed and is not suitable for all weathers. This results in limitations in mission and path planning.
The Bundeswehr will be operating the Heron TP drones until the entry of service of the new European RPAS, scheduled in 2025 at the earliest.