PARIS — Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on Oct. 22 showed live radar signal and infrared pictures of a two-masted warship sailing off the coast of Israel, captured by a maritime version of the Heron 1 UAV in flight.
IAI showed inverse synthetic aperture radar and infrared imagery to journalists at the Euronaval trade show, which opened Oct 22 at Le Bourget exhibition center.
The warship was a U.S. Navy destroyer, said an IAI executive who asked not to be identified, in line with company policy.
But two naval specialist reporters insisted the vessel was clearly a Sa’ar 5 corvette operated by the Israel Navy, with one reporter pointing out distinguishing features such as the Phalanx close-in weapon system and rotating radar antenna on the infrared picture.
The maritime Heron UAV also has an optical camera in the nose and a panoramic camera in the tail fin, but pictures of the warship from these cameras were not shown.
Depending on factors such as the number of annual flight hours, spares and payloads, a basic maritime Heron squadron comprising three aircraft and a ground station costs “between 40 to 60 million,” the executive said, without specifying dollars or euros.
The payloads can include an Elta maritime patrol radar, satellite communications, electronic and communications intelligence sensors, and infrared and electro/optical cameras.
Ecuador and India are among about 10 countries that fly the Heron maritime version, the IAI executive said, and 39 countries fly the Heron surveillance UAV.
Other real-time images screened at Eurovanal included a fishing boat bearing an Israeli flag and a rotating radar, a vessel named the Mermaid Endurer, and a tanker named the Mega Hope.
Greek police and the coast guard of the Canary Islands are among forces which have tested the maritime Heron.
Switzerland flew the conventional Heron surveillance UAV over cities in a one-week demonstration in September, the executive said.