Israel Aerospace Industries to Introduce ASW Capabilities in its Maritime Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is upgrading the potential of its maritime Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.

The new capabilities respond to the need arising from the discontinuation of the manned “Shahaf” Sea Scan (IAI Westwind) maritime patrol aircraft by the Israeli Navy and the growing use of IAI Heron (Shoval) RPAS for maritime patrol missions, which created a need in anti-submarine capabilities introduced directly into the RPA.

The maritime model of Heron 1 is currently equipped with an advanced electro-optical (EO) payload, the MOSP (Multi-mission Optronic Stabilized Payload) made by IAI’s TAMAM division, and a lightweight airborne maritime surveillance radar made by ELTA Systems. The maritime Herons will provide comprehensive protection of naval borders and strategic infrastructures to meet the operational needs by carrying out maritime patrol and intelligence gathering missions on everyday basis.

The maritime Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft will now have two new payloads for submarine detection: a Sonobuoy (acoustic detector) and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD).

The Sonobuoy is a small, lightweight innovative sonar float which is hurled out of the RPA with a parachute. Part of the Sonobuoy submerges in the water and part of it remains above water, emitting and receiving acoustics signals in high seas. The findings are transmitted in real-time to the RPA’s control post.

The MAD is a RPA-mounted device that detects and alerts on submarines through identification of changes in the magnetic flow (metal objects detection).

The two detectors complement one another: the Sonobuoy is used for searching a broad areas while the MAD is used to verify that the object is a submarine, including an up-to-date location. The RPA carries several Sonobuoys, which it hurls accurately into the sea whenever the presence of a submarine is suspected.

The use of RPA-mounted anti-submarine systems offers significant advantages, including longer stay time (dozens of hours on air), back-transmission of the sonar for many hours, operators who are located on land and can monitor the situation over multiple shift, and most importantly, the absence of risk to human life.

Shaul Shahar, IAI executive vice president general manager of the military aircraft group, commented, “The maritime Heron RPA has proved its efficacy for the Israeli Navy as well as for other clients. The addition of anti-submarine capabilities expands the RPA’s operational scope, while opening up new markets for IAI. As the home of the world’s advanced technologies, IAI is thrilled and proud to become one of the first to offer a solution of this type. In an age with growing submarine threats, the use of these systems will improve nations’ security across the seas, including in their economic water and seaports.”

Maritime Heron UAS introduction:

Maritime Heron UAS conducting maritime patrol missions in Canary Islands, Australia and El Salvador:



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