The announcement that Germany would pursue the lease of Heron TP (Eitan) unmanned air vehicles for an interim medium-altitude, long-endurance requirement could mean good things for Israeli sensor manufacturers. On January 12, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced that the country would pursue Israel Aerospace Industries’ UAV over the rival MQ-9 Reaper offered by General Atomics. So, Germany not only selected an Israeli aircraft over an American one; it is also likely to go with an Israeli electro-optical/infrared system and radar.
Israeli Heron TPs are believed to, in their latest configuration, fly with a Tamam M-19HD EO/IR payload. The system, which is produced by a division of IAI, offers continuous day-and-night and all-weather surveillance capability with “outstanding acquisition ranges,” according to the company. The system also includes a multimode automatic video tracker.
In addition, the latest Heron TP iteration is believed to fly with IAI radar division Elta’s EL/M-2055 synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI) payload. The radar can function in SAR strip and GMTI modes, both allowing target classification and track-while-scan functionality. The EL/M-2055 is also capable of cross-cueing to and from an aircraft’s EO/IR unit and other sensors.
Because Germany chose to lease three to five Heron TPs instead of purchasing them outright, it is likely that the nation will use the aircraft’s Israeli configuration. Although the Heron TP can fly with a wide variety of sensor packages, the most integrated, manufacturer-specific option will likely be used: an all IAI-produced package. The IAI Heron TP fitted with the Tamam M-19HD and Elta EL/M-2055 is the most probable choice.