Wednesday, February 15, 2012

First look at the RSAF's Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Coming out of the closet: The Republic of Singapore Air Force Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Command (UAV Command) unveils its IAI Heron 1 UAV, which takes pride of place at the Static Aircraft Display Area at the Singapore Airshow.(Picture courtesy of Roy from the Milnuts spotting group)

The Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which serves the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), is being shown in public for the first time at the Singapore Airshow 2012.

The Heron, the air force's largest eye-in-the-sky, can stay aloft for more than a day. It will eventually replace Searcher UAVs which were fielded by the RSAF since 1994. Both types of UAVs were made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Delivered recently from Israel, the Herons are operated by the RSAF's 128 Squadron and is grouped as one of the drone squadrons under UAV Command. The squadron, the RSAF's oldest UAV unit, operated the Malat Scout MRPV in the 1980s.

The Herons used by the squadron must maintain line-of-sight with its ground control station. Video feeds are understood to be in full colour - a marked improvement from imagery from earlier types of RSAF UAVs which were in black/white due to bandwidth transmission limitations.

Herons will complement Hermes 450 UAVs flown by 116 SQN. During operations, the two units will be assigned to support different Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) units.

Some interesting factoids about 128 SQN's Heron 1 UAVs:
* The Heron has the longest wingspan and endurance among all RSAF UAVs.

* UAV controllers from 128 SQN are assigned to work in shifts for long endurance missions that can last 24 hours or more.

* A camera is slung under the starboard wing to aid autonomous landings.

* The Heron is the only UAV in RSAF service that slows its landing run using pneumatic brakes, just like a fixed-wing aircraft. Other models that do not have brakes come to a stop using arrestor hooks (Hermes 450) or descend via parachute (Skylark).

* And finally, 128 SQN's Herons quite possibly have the most number of serial numbers painted on their airframe than any other RSAF aircraft type - manned or unmanned. Numbers can be found on the fuselage, main wing, both tail fins and the support in between the tail fins.

The Herons are being worked up to attain initial operational capability.

This blog wishes 128 SQN and RSAF UAV Command many hours of safe flying.


Anonymous said...

This RSAF Heron UAV has a couple differences from most others I see on the net.

1) There's a blade(white) antenna on the port boom. Maybe Iridium Satcom?

2) Multiple(x4)patch(white) antennas on the boom and fuselage. GPS/Iridium Satcom.

2a) That's like 4 channels. ~ 9.6kb/sec. Not enough for video but aircraft control.

3) An EO device under the starboard wing.What is the purpose of this?

4) Think this maybe standard - a camera on the starboard tail fin. Probably to see if anything has fallen off the plane...

David Boey said...

The EO device is a landing aid.

Warm regards,


Anonymous said...

15 Feb 1942 ... Forgive but not Forget.

Joe Man said...

The H450 is operated by 116Sqn or 119Sqn? According to website is 116Sqn.Anyone can verify?

David Boey said...

Hi Joe Man,
Hermes 450 is flown by 116 SQN. Was puzzled to hear from the Lieutenant on duty at the Hermes exhibit this afternoon that the Heron is operated by "119 SQN".

Verified with HAM's PRO who was loitering in the area that it's 128 SQN for the Heron.

Thanks for pointing this out.

Warm regards,


Anonymous said...

leutenant is right... it's operated by 119..