Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is strengthening its position in Central and South America and in the coming year will hold demonstrations of its Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for Panama security forces.
In May, the IAI-made Heron underwent a month-long evaluation by the United States Southern Command and the Salvadoran military to judge its suitability for counter-drug missions in South America and the Pacific. It was the first time that the drone, designed for intelligence gathering and surveillance, was used in counter-drug operations.
The demonstration in Panama, officials said Tuesday, would also focus on counter-drug operations, as well as border security. Officials said that teams from the Brazilian Police were already in Israel undergoing a course to learn how to use the Heron UAV.
Last week, the Brazilian government announced that it was prepared to sign a $350 million deal to purchase Heron UAVs to patrol its cities and borders and provide security for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.
The Heron, which already flies missions in Afghanistan on behalf of the Canadian military and was also recently sold to the German military, is capable of remaining in the air for close to two days straight without refueling. It can fly at an altitude of 30,000 ft, making it a difficult target for standard anti-aircraft weapons. It has the ability to carry a 250 kg payload, while the IAI's smaller Searcher UAV carries only 100 kg.
The Heron has a wingspan of 16.6 meters and weighs 1,200 kg, with an operational range of hundreds of kilometers and the ability to fly in all weather conditions.