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Israeli Air Force Grounds Drone Fleet …


The Israeli Air Force (IAF) grounded its fleet of armed IAI Heron-1 drones after a specimen of the medium-altitude long-endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was damaged during takeoff on Saturday, 21 January 2023.

The incident occasioned the third fleetwide grounding of the Heron-1—known within Israeli military circles as the Shoval (Hebrew “Path”)—in the last four months.

In a statement, the IAF set forth: “A Shoval drone was damaged during takeoff earlier this morning. There were no injuries and the incident will be investigated. The commander of the Air Force, Major General Tomer Bar, ordered that the Shoval fleet be grounded until the end of the investigation of the incident.”

The IAF further disclosed that the damaged drone was to be repaired.

In November 2022, a Heron-1 went down near the southern Israeli city of Arad. The accident’s vexing nature compelled IAF brass to ground the service’s entire Heron-I fleet for one-month pending repair of an ostensibly faulty flight control component to which the mishap was ultimately ascribed.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have lost numerous Heron-1 drones in accidents attributed to varying malfunctions. In September 2022, a fleetwide grounding of the vehicle was enacted after a Heron-1 plunged into the Mediterranean Sea along Israel’s northerly maritime border with Lebanon. The contraption was salvaged by the Israeli Navy.

The causes of the November 2022 and January 2023 Heron-1 accidents appear to differ.

While the Israeli government has not disclosed the number of drones in its arsenal, the IDF has conceded that drone flights account for approximately eighty-percent of the Israeli Air Force’s total yearly operational flight hours.



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