Aerospace & Defence

2Excel Aviation and IAI's Maritime Heron demonstrated

10th May 2022
Sam Holland

2Excel Aviation and IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) have completed a demonstration of IAI's Maritime Heron UAS, or unmanned aircraft system, in a series of live, Beyond Visual Line of Sight maritime search and ISR – intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance – scenarios. The demonstration was based out of West Wales Airport in Aberporth, Wales.

Attending the demonstration were in-person and virtual observers from the UK Ministry of Defence, Government and the Civil sector. Following the demonstration, IAI and 2Excel received positive feedback from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The Heron UAS was ready to fly within 36 hours of arriving at West Wales and maintained full serviceability throughout the period of the deployment. The Heron UAS achieved 100% of its planned scenarios, despite the challenging seasonal weather conditions. The system demonstrated that it is highly capable in missions including search and rescue, border protection, fisheries patrol, safety at sea, small boat detection and surveillance, along with other activities.

In-person attendees were able to make requests of the system, which were relayed live to the ground control station during the presentation. Rule-based scenarios were also demonstrated via IAI’s Starlight data exploitation tool, which received inputs from the Heron UAS’ multi-mission radar, EO/IR sensor and AIS. Points of interest were then generated using Starlight’s artificial intelligence and data processing engine to produce actionable intelligence, insights and maritime awareness. Data gathered was simultaneously broadcast to in-person and virtual attendees using IAI’s data dissemination tool, namely CRISP: Commander’s Remote Imagery Situation Picture.

As Moshe Levy, IAI Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group, explains: "The Heron's overwhelming success throughout the demonstration is thanks to effective and efficient cooperation with IAI's world-class partner at 2Excel. This demonstration signifies the growing bond between IAI and the UK industry. The Heron UAS is a cutting-edge, world-class system, paired with IAI's supportive data-gathering and analysis technology, which provides the customer with tailored solutions.

"I am sure this demonstration will lead to future endeavors and hope to see the Heron fly again in UK skies soon."

Says Andy Offer, Co-Founder and Director of 2Excel Aviation: “2Excel and IAI together demonstrated they can operate a very capable MALE (medium altitude long endurance) platform in the UK within the constraints of the current regulatory environment. It is another shining example of us being able to do difficult things well. The feedback from the UK Civil Aviation Authority was very positive and we feel confident about the roadmap for future unmanned operations across our suite of contract air services.”

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