• Heron 1 German Air Force drones operation extended for more than a year
  • Proven performance capability with a system availability reaching over 98%
  • More than 46,000 operational flying hours successfully completed over both countries

Bremen. 12 December 2018. Germany has extended the successful operation of the Heron 1 drones by Airbus DS Airborne Solutions GmbH, a company of Airbus, until mid of 2020.

These contracts have been signed with the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support on December 12th, 2018.

This renewed contract marks the continuation of one of the most successful cooperation’s betweenthe Bundeswehr and Airbus Defence and Space. The contract comprises the provision of all assetsand manpower to support the Israeli Heron 1 systems operations in the two countries ofdeployment. Heron 1, manufactured by the Israeli manufacturer IAI (Israeli Aerospace Industries), isa medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial system (UAS) which can stay airborneabove the respective operational area for very long periods and can be operated from unpavedrunways under harsh environmental conditions.

The Heron 1 has a wingspan of about seventeen meters and a maximum mission duration of morethan twenty-four hours. The detection of IEDs from the air, convoy and patrol unit escort, routeexploration and supervision, creation of movement profiles and long-term supervision, support for status reports as well as object and camp protection rank among the military tasks. In addition thesystem is also used for security and humanitarian support operations.

The Air Force has been using the Heron 1 system in Afghanistan since 2010 and in Mali since 2016.The Heron 1 system makes an indispensable contribution to the protection of soldiers and civiliansin the operational areas. With its operational range of up to 800 kilometers it significantly expandsthe possibilities of airborne reconnaissance of the German contingent. Until today, in total and overboth countries, more than 46,000 operational flying hours have been successfully flown.

Airbus is responsible for provision, maintenance and repair of the systems and guarantees theagreed operational availability of Heron 1 in both Afghanistan and Mali on basis of a services model. For this purpose, Airbus has technicians and UAS specialists, on-site in Mazar-I-Sharif(Afghanistan) and Gao (Mali) who maintain the drone system and carry out test flights thus ensuringthat the drones are available to the Bundeswehr at any time, as contractually agreed. This servicesmodel permits the Bundeswehr to concentrate completely on the fulfillment of its mission duringoperation, without being additionally burdened by the maintenance of the system.

“In Afghanistan and Mali, the services model has proven its performance capability by reaching asystem availability of more than 98%. The proven capability of the Heron system to supportworldwide deployment missions is reflected in these contract extensions as well as in the signedcontract on the next generation RPAS MALE HERON TP.” said Ralf Hastedt, Head of Sales and Business Development of Airbus DS Airborne Solutions GmbH.

“We are very pleased to see the satisfaction of the German Air Force with the Heron UAS activitiesand the excellent cooperation with Airbus DS Airborne Solutions, forming the basis for such arenewed contract extending the capabilities for long-range airborne reconnaissance of the German Air Force in Afghanistan and Mali by at least another year.“ said Moshe Levy, IAI Executive VicePresident and General Manager of IAI Military Aircraft Group.