Sunday, July 24, 2011
France Ends Ban on Arms Trade with Israel
End of an era: France has ended a four decades-long ban on weapons trade with Israel.
After more than 40 years, France has ended its ban on weapons trade with Israel. Paris has decided to purchase the Heron TP (Eitan) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Israel Aerospace Industries.
With a wingspan just about as wide as a Boeing 737 (26 meters), the Eitan flies up to an altitude of 40,000 feet and can remain airborne for up to 36 hours. The drone is able to carry a wide variety of equipment with which to conduct its reconnaissance missions due to its size – possibly even missiles.
The Eitan went into service in Israel approximately 18 months ago, and is the first military equipment purchase from Israel by France in 42 years. This is also the first time the Eitan has been sold to a foreign nation.
It was then-President Charles de Gaulle who imposed the weapons sales embargo, barring the sale of a French jet to Israel that was developed with Israeli technology.
That event spurred Israel's government to ensure that no foreign power would ever again have the ability to clip the wings of the IDF.
Israel began developing its own fighter jets, and it also immediately reached out to cultivate other sources of aircraft – primarily the United States.
The IDF purchased the Skyhawk, the F-15, F-16 and most recently the F-35, set to become the newest fighter jet of the Israel Air Force.
Meanwhile, the French-made Mirage, in use for years in Israel, began to undergo a transformation as the Israel Aerospace Industry worked to develop a domestic fighter aircraft. The Kfir fighter jet was the first aircraft to be entirely produced on the soil of the Jewish State, followed by the Lavi in the 1980s. The multi-billion dollar project was never completed, however, due to a complex combination of pressures. These included American political pressure to cancel its new export competitor and the understanding at home that it was just too costly for the small Jewish State to produce on its own.
Instead, Israel turned to the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a field in which the Jewish State has become a leader.
The IAI Heron (Machatz-1) is an 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 35,000 feet. It has demonstrated 52 hours of continuous flight, but the effective operational maximal flight duration is less, due to payload and flight profile. There is a new version, Heron TP, also known as IAI Eitan.
On 11 September 2005, it was announced that the Israel Defence Forces purchased US$50 million worth of Heron systems.
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Design and development
Heron navigates using an internal GPS receiver, and either a pre-programmed flight profile (in which case the system is fully autonomous from takeoff to landing), manual override from a ground control station, or a combination of both. It can autonomously return to base and land in case of lost communication with the ground station. The system has fully automatic launch and recovery (ALR) and all-weather capabilities.
Heron can carry an array of sensors, including infra-red and visible-light surveillance, intelligence systems (COMINT and ELINT) and various radar systems, totaling up to 250 kg (550 lb). Heron is also capable of target acquisition and artillery adjustment.
The payload sensors communicate with the ground control station in real-time, using either direct line of sight data link, or via an airborne/satellite relay. Like the navigation system, the payload can also be used in either a fully pre-programmed autonomous mode, or manual real-time remote operation, or a combination of both.
The Heron saw significant use during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza of 2008–2009. During the deployment, each brigade combat team was assigned a UAV squadron for close support. This was the first Israeli operation in which UAVs, helicopters, and fighter jets were allocated to ground forces directly without IAF central command authorizing sorties. Air-support controller teams operated alongside brigade commanders at the front emphasizing the brigade commander's utilization of direct air assets. A high degree of situational awareness was achieved by maintaining at least a dozen UAVs in flight over Gaza at all times. Aerial surveillance was provided by Heron and Hermes 450 UAVs and Apache attack helicopters. Along with coordination between the Air Force and ground troops, Israel ground forces were able to utilize cooperation with the Israel Security Agency by having operatives attached to the forward units. This inter-service coordination allowed for a higher level of tactical awareness and the ability to strike time-critical targets.
Other countries operating the Heron include India and Turkey. France operates a derivative of Heron named Eagle or Harfang. In 2008, Canada announced a plan to lease a Heron for use in Afghanistan, starting in 2009. As of mid-2009, Australia is leasing two Herons as part of a multi-million dollar lease to operate the vehicles in Afghanistan.
Turkey operates a special version of the Heron, which utilizes Turkish designed and manufactured electro-optical sub-systems. Turkish Herons use the ASELSAN of Turkey designed and manufactured ASELFLIR-300T Airborne Thermal Imaging and Targeting System. This is the same FLIR system used by the AgustaWestland TAI T-129 Attack helicopter and the TIHA UAV. Its advantages include the following:
IAI staff maintain that the Turkish Heron's "with its enhanced performance, is better than all existing Heron UAVs operating worldwide”. In 2004, an Indian Airforce Heron UAV, during a reconnaissance mission was shot down by a Pakistan Airforce F-16 over Lahore.
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Israel's HERON TP is the largest drone ever created.
With maximum takeoff weight of 4650 kg, the 14 meter long aircraft can carry over 1,000 kg of sensors in its forward section, main payload bay, and the two bulges located at the end of each tail boom, offering optimal separation for specific systems.
The Heron or Machatz-1 is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aircraft Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours' duration at up to 35,000 feet.
- Royal Australian Air Force – 3
- Brazilian Federal Police- 15
- Canadian Forces – 3 on a lease contract for three years between 2008–2011
- Ecuadorian Navy – 2
- Luftwaffe – 3 plus 2 ground stations on an initial one-year lease starting in 2010
- Indian Air Force – 50
- Indian Navy
- Israeli Defence Force – 1+
- Republic of Singapore Air Force
- Turkish Air Force – 10
- United States Navy – 2
- Federal Police – 3
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An Israeli made unmanned aerial vehicle, the Heron TP, is displayed at it's induction ceremony into the Israeli Air Force at the Tel Nof Air Force Base, February 21, 2010. The large drone is built by the Israel Aerospace Industries, IAI, and is capable of flying to Iran. It has a wingspan of 86 feet, the size of a passenger jet and can fly 20 consecutive hours. The drone is primarily used for surveillance and carrying payloads