Israel’s largest UAV returns to the skies
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) resumed flying the advanced Eitan unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), also known as the Heron TP, on September 7. The Air Force carried out a successful trial flight yesterday, the first such flight since January. The flight took place after Air Force Commander Major General Amir Eshel approved the Eitan’s return to service. The aircraft had been grounded since one crashed during an experimental flight in January of this year. Major General Eshel’s decision to resume the UAV’s flights was made in light of the conclusions of a joint investigation into the causes of that incident that was carried out by the IAF, the Ministry of Defense’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
“After a long period of tests and experiments designed to find the source of the crash, there is no doubt that today is a day of celebration for us,” said Lt Colonel Momi, the representative of the IAF’s Equipment Division responsible for the Eitan project. “We will return operational capabilities to this squadron as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the airplane can continue to carry out all of the activities that it performed before the crash, just with different restrictions.”
The joint investigation revealed that January’s crash was not caused by human error, nor by the extra weight that the plane was carrying on its wing for the experimental flight. “The incident reflected a structural problem in the wing of the airplane,” explained Lt Colonel Momi. “A problem in one of the stages of the production of the wing caused it to collapse under the weight, taking down the Eitan.”