The Israeli UAV industry – The Super Heron HF

This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)

The First article in the series on the Israeli UAV Industry.



At the beginning of 2014 IAI has unveiled its new Super Heron UAS – a new upgraded version of the successful UAV.

Dubbed Super Heron HF (Heavy Fuel), the upgraded platform features a new 200 hp power plant from Italian company Diesel Jet. The new diesel power plant has afforded the Super Heron HF a number of performance enhancements, including an increased rate of climb, a top speed of 150 kt (compared to 125 kt), and increased maximum take-off weight of 1,450 kg (compared to 1,250 kg). In addition to the new engine, the Super Heron HF features triple-redundant avionic systems, a more varied payload set, and winglets. These winglets increase the aircraft’s endurance beyond the 45 hours of the baseline Heron 1.

The attention created by the new Super Heron brought IAI to offer existing operators of its Heron UAS to get the advanced performance of the heavy fuel Super Heron by taking out the avionic package of the older version and “transplant” it into the new Super Heron fuselage that can house the bigger engine.

The Super Heron has new aerodynamic design, featuring more streamlined curves, larger engine bay and winglets, a combination that improves the UAS’ aerodynamic efficiency. The engine bay was designed to carry two engine types – either the existing Rotax 914 engine or a new Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) with fuel injection made by the Italian company DieselJet SRL. This 200HP engine is based on an automotive diesel engine made by FIAT which is currently undergoing aviation certification by EASA. The HFE engine is slightly heavier than the ROTAX. According to IAI, to compensate for the additional weight, the heavy fuel offers better fuel consumption. This combined with the winglets, and the longer wings, increased the air speed of the Super Heron to above 150 KTAS. This, the Israeli company says, is vital when the UAS is carrying different types of radar payloads. The Super Heron max takeoff weight is 1500 kg and that includes a 450 kg payload.

As the avionics assembly of the Super Heron is identical to that used by the Heron, IAI is offering existing customers to buy only the new fuselage and the engine of the Super Heron and to install in it the avionics of the Heron. This, according to IAI, will save money mainly because the transplant will allow the operator to use the existing ground systems that served the older version.

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