The German Ministry of Defence procurement agency (BAAInBw) and Airbus Defence and Space have signed a contract to provide Heron 1 unmanned surveillance aircraft to support the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) mission in Mali. That reproted by flugrevue.de.
“A major success factor for this new assignment is our experience gained in more than 2300 missions over Afghanistan” said Thomas Reinartz, Head of Sales for unmanned aerial systems at Airbus. “There we have proven our reliability to the full satisfaction of our customer – with a fleet availability higher than 95 percent.”
On July 1st 2016 Bundeswehr has taken over responsibility for the intelligence unit in Mali from the Netherlands. In the perimeter of the UN MINUSMA mission German forces are taking on their tasks mainly in the Gao region. The current threat scenarios and the size of the area of operations – the north of Mali is more than twice the size of Germany – require a long endurance surveillance system. Based on the extremely positive experience made in Afghanistan, German forces will therefore now also deploy the Heron 1 to Mali.
By using the current operator model the Bundeswehr benefits in various aspects. In addition to the high availability of the fleet and a high flexibility in terms of contract duration the German forces can focus entirely on their core missions. They also profit from the system’s full compatibility and interoperability within NATO.
The extension of the Heron 1 operational model is paving the way also for the next drone generation Heron TP, which has been selected by the German Bundeswehr Chief of Staff to succeed the Heron 1 and bridge the timeframe until a European drone development will be available.
Heron / Machatz 1 is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV) system primarily designed to perform strategic reconnaissance and surveillance operations.
The advanced system offers fully automated take-off and landing, even under adverse weather conditions. Flying at a height of 30,000ft, Heron provides its operators with real-time information on enemy battlefields by performing surveillance and target acquisition over large areas.
Initially, the Heron UAV was deployed by the Indian Air Force and was used for high-altitude land surveillance and maritime patrol missions. Later, Israeli and Turkish Air Forces acquired the UAV system for similar applications.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operates the Heron UAV in Afghanistan under Project Nankeen for surveillance, reconnaissance, security and battle damage assessment.