IAI: Multipurpose drones and a sea and land shield [WYWIAD]

Jakub Palowski: The IAI has recently demonstrated the Tactical Heron Unmanned Aerial System (UAV). What are its main features? What tasks can it perform despite its smaller size?

Israel Sharon, IAI Marketing VP: IAI Tactical Heron is a new member of the Heron family. This allows the user to take advantage of all the advantages of the Heron BSP family. Tactical Heron is designed to meet the requirements of Class 2 NATO (approx. 600 kg take-off weight).

Tactical Heron uses the most modern technologies and will be able to carry out various missions thanks to them for the coming decades. The main features are:

  • Ability to perform missions with different payloads carried simultaneously (multi-payload), this includes optoelectronic sensors, radars, ELINT, COMINT and more
  • Operating ceiling above 15,000 feet (up to 24,000 feet)
  • Hundreds of kilometers of range – satellite communication allows for an unlimited range of activities
  • Quiet operation (Tactical Heron uses a certified, reliable aircraft engine. Completely silent in tactical applications).

Tactical Heron will work in any paramilitary or civilian application, such as:

  • Supervision over gas and oil pipelines
  • Monitoring in agriculture
  • Search and rescue
  • Monitoring of stands / natural resources in terms of damage and theft.

What other UAV systems does IAI offer that could be offered to Poland? I mean, among other things, large platforms and circulating ammunition. And could you say something about the development in general, about the work carried out by the IAI in relation to the Unmanned Aerial Systems, taking into account many years of operational experience?

The IAI company has not been involved in the Polish BSP market for the last 7 years, due to the lack of permission from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Recently, after renewing our license for Poland, IAI returns to Poland with redoubled energy and with the most modern line of products in the UAV sector. In addition, due to the fact that we were not present on the local market for some time, and during that time our systems were developing – this is an opportunity for us to update your knowledge about our BSP systems.

Today, on the unmanned systems market, the existing UAV offers are usually based on 20- or even 30-year-old platforms. Sometimes the user forgets that these systems are gone outdated.

IAI systems are based on up-to-date and latest technologies, created thanks to our heritage and the experience we have gained while our systems have been used on the battlefield. Moreover, operational experience has been implemented on our UAVs of other classes.

For example, Tactical Heron with its multi-sensor payload is fully compatible and can work with other classes of Unmanned Aerial Systems.

So you can collect intelligence from multiple sensors on one tactical platform in the course of one task. All this information can be processed within the framework of the comprehensive C4I intelligence center.

LRAD rocket launch from a land launch.  Photo  IAI
LRAD rocket launch from a land launch. Photo IAI

IAI has been offering Barak-MX missiles in Poland for many years. Along with the official announcement that PGZ will lead the project – what next steps will IAI take in the context of Narew?

Over the past few years, IAI has participated in numerous inquiry sessions related to technical and business aspects. We tried to fulfill all the customer’s wishes. BARAK MX seems to meet all the basic requirements and additionally provides a lot of operational benefits. This is due to the fact that the system is based on the latest technologies, has a modular structure, is flexible, mature and proven. In addition to the operational benefits, in terms of business, working with IAI, which is very open to cooperation and support, will contribute in many ways to enhancing the benefits beyond the usual cooperation framework.

The IAI approved its contractual commitments and set out the plan in detail. Therefore, the IAI is willing to start immediately, after the decision by the Polish Ministry of Defense, implement technology transfer and train Polish personnel. We will support Poland in establishing local production lines and service capacities. Poland will have its own capabilities to construct, use and service the most advanced air defense systems.

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Photo IAI.

With regard to naval air defense, the IAI offers not only the Barak-MX missile, but also phase-scanning radars. How can they be integrated to support action in a disputed environment such as the Baltic Sea?

The MFSTAR digital scanning radar is an integral part of the BARAK-MX marine air defense system.

It is the world’s first battle-proven AESA radar with fixed antennas, designed for naval use. It’s a mature technology with over a decade of operational experience in harsh environments. This radar can detect and track hundreds of surface and air targets simultaneously, of all types. It is installed on more than 20 frigates of various types around the world, either underway or in preparation. Four global navies have chosen the technology of the latest, modernized version, including the Israeli Navy (Saar 6) and the German Navy (the F124 ships will receive the BMD – anti-ballistic missile capability). This latest technology is offered today for use in the Baltic Sea.

A few months ago, the IAI announced that the Barak-ER, extended range, had been tested against ballistic missiles. So, would it be possible to provide the Miecznik ships, and potentially also the Narew systems, with anti-ballistic missile capabilities?

The BARAK ER system developed by IAI combines the ability to intercept air targets at longer distances, up to 150 km, and ballistic targets. Efektor ER is part of the IAI BARAK Air Defense Systems family, which provides the ability to hit targets at various ranges. Extended range anti-target capabilities are achievable in part by aligning the MMR effector and radar capabilities to a range of 150 km. They can be introduced on both sea and land platforms.

The IAI naval combat system and its significant air defense capabilities are designed to overcome current and future challenges in maritime areas such as the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. Increasing sea and air traffic close to naval units and critical infrastructure, combined with complex, multilateral interests and diverse threats – such as sea patrol planes, Unmanned Aerial Systems, combat aircraft and their weapons, sea-skimmer anti-ship missiles, also those launched from the land create an operational theater and a challenge to which the IAI Barak air defense system was designed.

Thank you for the conversation.


About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

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