An Indian Navy Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) crashed about 25 kilometers away from Porbandar in Gujarat on Saturday, according to local reports citing official sources.
According to the sources, the Israeli-made UAV was on a routine surveillance mission when it lost data-link communication with the ground control station and crashed around 1 pm in south-east of Porbandar. No loss of life or damage has been reported from the crash site.
A Board of Inquiry (BoI) has also been formed to ascertain the reasons of the crash, sources added.
In March 24 this year, another Heron UAV of the Indian Navy had crashed during a routine surveillance exercise soon after take off in Porbandar.
IAI Heron (Machatz-1) is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours’ duration at up to 10.5 km (35,000 ft).
It has demonstrated 52 hours of continuous flight, but the effective operational maximal flight duration is less, according to payload and flight profile. An advanced version, the Heron TP, is also known as the IAI Eitan.
The Heron navigates using an internal GPS navigation device, and either a pre-programmed flight profile (in which case the system is fully autonomous from takeoff to landing), manual override from a ground control station, or a combination of both. It can autonomously return to base and land in case of lost communication with the ground station. The system has fully automatic launch and recovery (ALR) and all-weather capabilities.
The Heron can carry an array of sensors, including thermographic camera (infrared) and visible-light airborne ground surveillance, intelligence systems (COMINT and ELINT) and various radar systems, totaling up to 250 kg (550 lb). The Heron is also capable of target acquisition and artillery adjustment.
The payload sensors communicate with the ground control station in real time, using either direct line of sight data link, or via an airborne/satellite relay. Like the navigation system, the payload can also be used in either a fully pre-programmed autonomous mode, or manual real-time remote operation, or a combination of both.