While Israeli soldiers can't fight in the war inAfghanistan, Israeli drones can. Starting next week, five NATO membercountries will be operating unmanned aerial vehicles produced in theJewish state in anti-Taliban operations in the Central Asian country.
Nextweek, officials from the German military will arrive to take deliveryof an undisclosed number of Heron UAVs, made by Israel AerospaceIndustries.
The Heron is a medium altitude long endurance UAV that canremain airborne for more than 30 hours with a cruising altitude of30,000 feet, and can carry a payload of 250 kg. It has a wingspan of16.6 meters, a takeoff weight of 1,200 kg. and an operational range ofseveral hundred kilometers. It can carry a variety of sensors used forsurveillance and target identification.
Germany is the fifth country to operate Israel AerospaceIndustries UAVs in Afghanistan. In December, the Royal Australian AirForce took delivery of several Heron systems, joining Spain, France andCanada that already operate the platform.
Israel is a recognized world leader in thedevelopment of UAVs. In November, the Brazilian government announcedthat it was prepared to sign a $350 million deal to purchase Heron UAVsto patrol its cities and borders, and to provide security for the 2014Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Later this year, Israel Aerospace Industries will holddemonstrations of the Heron for Panamanian security forces inconjunction with the US military's Southern Command. The demonstrationin Panama will focus on counter-drug operations, as well as bordersecurity.
LastMay, the Heron underwent a month-long evaluation by the SouthernCommand and the Salvadoran military to judge its suitability forcounter-drug missions in Latin America and the Pacific. It was thefirst time that the drone, designed for intelligence gathering andsurveillance, was used in such operations.