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Eitan (UCAV)

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Title: Eitan (UCAV)  
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Subject: Heron (disambiguation), History of unmanned combat air vehicles, Military equipment of Israel, List of unmanned aerial vehicles
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Eitan (UCAV)

Role Reconnaissance UAV
National origin Israel
Manufacturer IAI
First flight ca. 2004
Introduction Gaza War[1]
Unit cost
Developed from IAI Heron

The IAI Eitan (איתן – "Steadfast"), also known as Heron TP, is a reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed in Israel in the early 21st century by the Malat division of Israel Aerospace Industries.[3] The aircraft is a newer version of the IAI Heron.


A medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) UAV,[4] the Eitan can operate at altitudes above commercial air traffic[4] and features all-weather capability,[4] de-icing systems,[5] automatic takeoff and landing (ATOL) systems,[4] and triple-redundant avionics.[4] It is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with wings of high aspect ratio. Booms extend rearward from the wings and carry twin tails that are joined by a common horizontal stabiliser. The main units of the tricycle undercarriage retract into the tail booms, and the nosewheel retracts into the fuselage. A single turboprop engine is mounted in the rear fuselage, driving a pusher propeller. Construction throughout is of composite materials.[3]


In April 2004, the Israeli Air Force magazine announced the existence of the programme and reported that two prototypes were already flying.[6] In March the following year, US company Aurora Flight Sciences announced a joint venture to market the aircraft under the name Orion.[6] Aurora hoped to have a machine flying during 2007, but by the middle of that year, the company had not released anything further about the project.[6] Meanwhile reports emerged of a "first flight" for the Eitan in Israel on 15 July 2006, despite the previous reports that the aircraft had already been flying two years previously.[6] In late January 2007, Yedioth Ahronoth reported yet another seemingly contradictory announcement, which indicated that the maiden flight was to take place in the coming days.[7]

The Eitan was publicly unveiled at a media event at Tel Nof Airbase on 8 October 2007.[8][9] The sensors fitted on this occasion included a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mounted in a pod on the aircraft's belly, a multi-sensor payload carried under its nose, and two conformal signals intelligence (SIGINT) arrays.[8] Additional sensors may be carried at the ends of the tail booms.[9] Analysis of the configuration presented to the media suggests an aircraft intended for deep penetration roles and on-board SIGINT processing capability.[8] However, at the media event an IAF official stated that IAI and the IAF had tested "all kinds of payloads, in all kinds of configuration schemes."[9] Apart from its intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role, the Eitan may also be used for aerial refuelling, and armed roles including missile defence[5][7] and long-range strategic strike.[10]


One report stated that Israel deployed Eitans in its alleged 2009 airstrike against an alleged Gaza-bound Iranian arms convoy traveling through Sudan.[11]

In February 2010 the Israeli Air Force unveiled its new fleet of Eitans.[12] The first unit to operate the type, 210 Squadron, was inaugurated at Tel Nof in December 2010.[13] In January 2012, an Eitan drone crashed near Hafetz Haim during tests of new payloads; no injuries were reported.[14][15]


  •  Germany - In 2010 IAI offered the Eitan, under a teaming agreement with Rheinmetall, in pursuit of the German air force's long-term "Saateg" MALE UAV requirement.[16]
  •  France - In 2011 France selected the IAI Eitan for the French military.[17] The deal was cancelled later in November 2011 by the French senate with the funds being allocated to a joint Franco-British MALE UAV design. [18]
  •  Spain - Indra sistemas and Thales Group have offered to the Spanish Ministry of Defence a system based on the IAI Eitan.[19]
  •  United Kingdom - Britain's Royal Air Force considering purchase of IAI Eitan UAVs.[20]


Data from IAI website

General characteristics
  • Crew: none
  • Capacity: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) payload[21]
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,650 kg (10,250 lb)
  • Length: 13[14] m (43 ft in)
  • Wingspan: 26[14] m (86 ft in)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney PT6A, 900 kW (1,200 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 370+ km/h ( mph)
  • Range: 7,400+[21] km (4,600+ miles)
  • Endurance: 70+[14] hours
  • Service ceiling: 14,000+[14] m (45,000+ ft)

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



See also

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