Greece to lease Heron drones from Israel for maritime surveillance

Greece to lease the system for three years with option to purchase.

IAI Heron UAV (photo credit: IAI)
(photo credit: IAI)
Israel’s Defense Ministry has signed an agreement with the Hellenic Ministry of National Defense to lease several Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron UAVs to Greece for border defense.
The agreement, signed digitally by Defense Ministry director general, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Udi Adam and general director for Defence Investments and Armament – Lt.-Gen. (Ret.) Theodoros Lagios (HAF) in light of the coronavirus pandemic, is the first between the two ministries.
As part of the agreement, the Heron system in its maritime configuration will be leased to Greece for three years with the option to purchase the system at the end of the leasing period.
According to Greek media, the two drones will be used to bolster the country’s intelligence gathering abilities and will act as a deterrent to Turkey, which has deployed drones to the Evros region and Aegean Sea that borders the two countries.
Limited only by fuel availability, the system can carry out missions over 1,000 km. from its operating base. According to IAI, the system’s operational configuration consists of maritime patrol radar with multi-mode functions, as well as an electro-optical sensor with both day and night capabilities and an optional electronic intelligence (ELINT) package.
Equipped with satellite communications, the Heron offers extended operational endurance in a wide range of scenarios including maritime patrol, marine and land border protection, search and rescue, disaster management and more.
"The great security relations between Israel and Greece are expanding. We see great importance in the choice made by Greece to equip its forces with an Israeli system, particularly during the global corona crisis,” said the Head of the International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT), Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Yair Kulas.
“This is a clear expression of confidence in the capabilities and strength of the Israeli defense industry,” he said. “We hope to sign additional agreements with Greece as well as other European partners, assisting them in addressing security challenges – in times of the corona pandemic and beyond.”
The system is operational in the IDF and naval forces around the world and has demonstrated its capabilities in Greece as well.
In 2018, it was reported that Greece would lease seven Heron medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) UAVs as part of a three-year contract worth 35.5 million euros.
Foreign reports state that Israel is considered a leading exporter of drones. IAI has over 50 operational customers around the globe, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea.
"IAI UAVs have seen countless operational successes, with over 1.8 million operational flight hours, and are in use by more than fifty partners worldwide,” said Moshe Levy, executive VP and general manager of IAI’s Military Aircraft Group.
“With advanced automation capabilities, the UAVs are equipped with payloads that meet a variety of requirements aligned with the operational scenarios presented,” he said. “The agreement with Greece is yet another example of the successful leasing model promoted by IAI in many parts of the world.”