Japanese officials were interested in the Heron TP UAV developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). That reported by asahi.com.
The IAI Heron is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours’ duration at up to 10.5 km (35,000 ft).
It has demonstrated 52 hours of continuous flight, but the effective operational maximal flight duration is less, according to payload and flight profile. There is a new version, Heron TP, also known as IAI Eitan.
According to Japanese government sources, the Defense Ministry began showing interest in Israel’s medium-sized UAV three years ago.
In 2015, a group of Defense Ministry and SDF officials visited a number of sites in Israel to see the drone in action.
The Israeli Air Force allowed The Asahi Shimbun to visit a unit that operates the Heron UAV. The control room for the vehicle was located next to the runway. Each UAV was operated by a two-man crew, with the superior officer actually steering the UAV while the subordinate handled intelligence-gathering.
A source close to the discussions said that Israel pointed to the advantages of the Heron as a joint manufacturing project with Japan. Drones would not be equipped with a black box that prevents Japan getting its hands on sensitive technological data. Japan would also be able to install its own sensors.
For Israel, Japan represents a potential major market.
According to Israeli Defense Ministry officials, weapons exports in 2015 totaled $5.7 billion and the Asia-Pacific region ranked No. 1 in terms of importer nations with a total of $2.3 billion.
Expanding sales routes is a major priority for defense companies as international competition heats up.