The Israeli Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) underwent trials in Brazil last week to evaluate its capabilities for use against drug trafficking, border security and natural resource theft.
The Heron, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, is already supporting missions in Afghanistan on behalf of the Canadian military. It arrived in Brazil last month and flew under challenging and unpredictable weather conditions in one of the most difficult areas of Brazil - the state of Parana. The Heron was the first UAV to fly in this region of southern Brazil.
The Heron is capable of remaining in the air close to two days without refueling. It can fly at an altitude of 30,000 feet, making it a difficult target for standard anti-aircraft weapons, and can carry a 250 kg payload.
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, as well as at night.
The IAI-Brazilian partnership began two years ago after the Brazilian Federal Police began issuing tenders for a UAV. The police team said the Heron system could successfully complete missions under difficult climate and terrain conditions, and had more advanced flight and loitering capabilities than other UAV systems.
Several ministers from the Brazilian government as well as senior Brazilian military officers were present during the demonstration. IAI recently founded a joint venture with the Brazilian corporation Synergy Group, EAE, which will be active in the Brazilian market as well as other potential Latin American markets.
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