Israeli UAV Built for Germany Completes First Flight on Time Despite COVID

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) making progress in UAV project for Germany. Israeli President Rivlin visiting IAI in 2019 with UAV in background. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Mark Neiman (GPO)

The government responses to coronavirus have shut down much of the world and impacted much more, but the virus couldn’t prevent the Israeli defense establishment from reaching a key milestone in developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for Germany. The German Heron TP UAV—based on the Israeli “Eitan” UAV and modified for Germany by Israel in “record time” according to a press release from the Israeli Ministry of Defense—has successfully completed its first flight.

“This is a significant and historic phase in the strategic cooperation between Israel and Germany: an Israeli-developed UAV, produced for the German Air Force, took off for its first flight in Israeli skies,” said Head of the UAV Executive Office in the Israel Ministry of Defense, Col. (Res.) C.

“Despite the various challenges we faced, including those brought by the Corona pandemic, we are on schedule. This is thanks to the collaboration and great work done by elements of Germany and Israel’s defense establishments.”

The deal between the defense ministries for Israel and Germany signed in June 2018 arranges for leasing UAVs to Germany, as well as for Israel to provide maintenance and training for the aircraft. In addition to modifying the UAV to meet Germany’s specifications while incorporating advanced Israeli technology, members of the German Air Force are also training with the Israeli Air Force.

The Heron TP UAV is intended as a “long endurance, and multi-mission aircraft with a variety of payloads,” according to the Israeli press release.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has been joined in the project by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and Airbus DS Airborne Solutions.

“IAI is pleased to mark this important milestone in the Heron TP project for Germany,” said IAI Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group Moshe Levy.

“We thank our partners in the Ministry of Defense and Airbus Group, for their cooperation in this project—a result of which we are going to provide the German Air Force with a system tailored to its operational needs and requirements.”  

(By Joshua Spurlock,, July 26, 2020)

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