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.”

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