Heron MK II UAS, the youngest member of the Heron family of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), is one of IAI's highlights at Aero India 2023
Heron MK II UAS reflects the latest technology and the operational maturity gained by IAI and its customers that have been operating Heron family UAS for decades. The new model maintains its rich heritage, supporting interoperability and compatibility with legacy Heron family systems proven with over 22,00,000 operational flight hours. This is an important force multiplier for all existing and future Heron family customers. Heron MK II sets new mission capabilities, efficiencies, and autonomy standards. IAI cooperates with HAL and ELCOM Systems Pvt Ltd to manufacture and support IAI's UAS in the Indian subcontinent, including these new systems.
By operating up to six sensor payloads simultaneously, Heron MK II provides a single platform's complete, multi-modal intelligence- gathering capability. These payloads enable the collection of reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence in real-time, covering large areas of interest. Using dedicated sensors, the system can perform standoff reconnaissance (with the M19 payload) over a long distance (up to 100 km) or persistent surveillance over a wide area (Wasp payload). Heron MK II can also carry maritime surveillance radar, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), electronic surveillance measures (ESM), and communications intelligence (COMINT).
Sensor data can be processed on board or downloaded to the ground station over the wideband satellite communications link. Users can also switch to the digital line-ofsight datalink to employ covert, secure, and resilient communications. In addition to streaming live sensor data to the ground segment, Heron Mk II also has servers onboard, providing users access to large amounts of raw or processed sensor data collected throughout the mission and stored onboard.
The dimensions of the Heron MK II have been increased to a 9.7-meter-long fuselage and a wingspan of almost 17 meters, providing a larger space for internal and external payloads, including underwing stores such as lifeboats, without degrading performance. The new powerplant is optimised for the mission profile defined by the new platform. The aviation-certified engine, specially tuned for the mission profile, delivers 160 hp, significantly over the 115 hp provided on the legacy Heron. Longer +30 hour missions, higher climb rate, and efficient operation at altitudes up to 35,000 ft are some of the new capabilities. The maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) has increased to 1,430 kg, including a useful payload of 470 kg. Another forte is its ability to endure adverse weather, with deicing systems enabling Heron MK II to cross stormy weather it may encounter on its flight, over mountains and sea.
Cutting-edge avionics enable operators to plan and implement flight and mission autonomy with ease. The system conforms to open architecture, with separate flight control and mission management systems, enabling the manufacturer and users to maintain optimal upgrading cycles and avionics systems flexibility throughout the UAS life cycle. The separate flight and mission computers, allow users to introduce changes in the mission system while maintaining airworthiness flight-control functions intact. Autonomous takeoff and landing and multiple redundancies for flight and mission-critical systems are fully supported. The state of the art design is certified to international standards, preparing it for the new generation.
Heron MK II also offers an advanced, ergonomic workstation design with flat displays and map-based graphical touch-based control reducing the complex procedures into a few touches and clicks. An integrated training system enables the training and rehearsal of operators, simulating the weather conditions, platform behavior, terrain, payloads, and targets avoiding unnecessary risk to airframes under rough flight conditions.
Based on the successful operational record of the Heron UAS across all Indian military branches, the new Heron MK II is positioned to introduce new operational capabilities, deepen Indian participation, and continue the proud Heron legacy.