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Israeli Air Force Unveils Long-Range Drone

The heron uav drone (pictured), capable of flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet for 30 hours, has been estimated by foreign experts to have a maximum operating range of 3,300 kilometres (2,000 miles), putting Iran well within its range. A major who is a commander in the Israeli military's drone operations division said that the Heron's satellite navigation system "marks a new generation of drones put into service" of the Israeli army. "This plane can carry out missions we haven't been able to do before. Its engine is silent and its systems are state of the art. This plane can reach anywhere you can imagine," he said on condition of anonymity.
by Staff Writers
Palmahim Air Base, Israel (AFP) March 07, 2007
The Israeli air force on Wednesday unveiled its first long-range unmanned aerial vehicle reportedly capable of carrying out reconnaissance missions thousands of kilometres away. The Heron is "a major leap forward for the Israel Defence Forces and is capable of tackling a variety of threats Israel is facing today," air force chief Major General Eliezer Shkedi told AFP at the drone's unveiling ceremony at Palmahim air force base in the centre of the country.

Although it was officially shown by the army on Wednesday, the drone was successfully used during last summer's war in Lebanon for a variety of tasks including live intelligence gathering and locating rocket launchers, officials said.

When asked whether the Heron could reach Israel's arch-foe Iran, Shkedi said only that it was capable of carrying out tasks "beyond one's imagination."

The drone, capable of flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet for 30 hours, has been estimated by foreign experts to have a maximum operating range of 3,300 kilometres (2,000 miles), putting Iran well within its range.

A major who is a commander in the Israeli military's drone operations division said that the Heron's satellite navigation system "marks a new generation of drones put into service" of the Israeli army.

"This plane can carry out missions we haven't been able to do before. Its engine is silent and its systems are state of the art. This plane can reach anywhere you can imagine," he said on condition of anonymity.

Israel, believed to be the region's sole if undeclared nuclear power, has accused Iran of trying to make an atomic bomb under the guise of its controversial nuclear programme, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes.

Israel considers Iran's nuclear programme to be an "existential threat" after its hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map.

Last month, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported that Israel has drawn up plans to launch an air strike against Iran's uranium enrichment facilities. Israel denied the report.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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