Rheinmetall has been awarded a follow-up contract to make the Heron 1 Unmanned Aircraft available to the Bundeswehr another two years. The volume of the follow-up order comes to a substantial eight-figure euro amount, and covers the period from 23 October 2010 to 22 October 2012.
At the German base in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, the German Air Force operates 2 different Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), including 3 Heron 1 aircraft and 2 ground control stations, which Rheinmetall makes available as part of an operator solution.
The system, whose German acronym SAATEG stands for “system for imagery reconnaissance deep in the area of operations”, is used for real-time aerial surveillance and reconnaissance throughout the entire area of operations of the German ISAF contingent; it went into operation on 17 March 2010.
The Heron – the first UAV ever deployed by the German Air Force anywhere – has since proved highly effective, emerging as an indispensable element of the regional reconnaissance architecture. During flights lasting up to 24 hours, the system’s sensors supply important information and make a valuable contribution to protecting military and civilian personnel from attack. The Heron 1 has since completed its first thousand hours of flight time on behalf of the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan.
Able to operate around the clock in virtually all weather conditions, the Heron 1 is an unmanned, Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) aircraft used for targeting and damage assessment. With a wingspan of 16.6 meters and a take-off weight of 1.2 tons, this aircraft has an operating ceiling of 30,000 feet. Owing to its satellite data link, the Heron 1 can recognize large swaths of territory, while its imaging radar ensures excellent reconnaissance results even in conditions of poor visibility.