Israel Unveils World’s Largest Drone…the Size of a 737

Saturday, April 17, 2010
Heron TP (photo: Israel Aerospace Industries)

Not known for its public displays of new weaponry, Israel’s military sent a message to Iran recently by unveiling its latest “breakthrough” in unmanned aircraft, the Heron TP, nicknamed Eitan, which is Hebrew for “strong.”

The Eitan is the world’s largest drone—with a wingspan of 86 feet that makes it nearly the size of a Boeing 737 jetliner. It can remain airborne for about 20 hours and fly as far as the Persian Gulf, which means it’s capable of entering Iranian airspace.
Not only can the Eitan perform surveillance and carry communications-jamming equipment, but it can also launch air-to-ground missiles. Palestinians say Israel first used the drone during its last offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military commanders have not publicly confirmed the Eitan’s offensive capabilities.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
New Israeli Drone Can Reach Iran (by Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press)
Israel Unveils World's Largest UAV (Homeland Security Newswire)


Padesatka 10 years ago
@SAM I agree that Iran would likely welcome with enthusiasm both the target practice and propaganda value of an Eitan incursion. Attack UAVs will remain a means for beating up on foes without serious air defenses, until the corporations are ready to allow the realization to publicly dawn, that unmanned air-to-air combat vehicles could easily eclipse all manned fighters from now forward. But for now, there are still many billions more to be made on the hollywood and propaganda value of manned fighter jets. We're at the end of an era that has parallels with the sunset of armored knights on armored horseback- our most glamorous and expensive military hardware is actually extremely vulnerable. But as long as there are fortunes to be made, we won't speak of what it was like when heavily-armored knights were first unhorsed and stabbed in the armpits by commonfilk, and we won't advertise the inevitable fate of the first manned "air-superiority" fighters to meet with a swarm of smaller, faster, more maneuverable, and far more cost-effective killer drones. So politicians who fund our present gilded knights-in-armor programs, and who are in the de facto employ of the corporations producing ever more expensive manned combat aircraft won't mention what's obvious to many aviation technology observers: But back to the big dumbos, Global Hawk is one example of a still larger (116' wingspan, 25klb gross weight) and lumbering military UAV, that's been flying for longer, and in greater numbers than Israel's Heron. Its an example of the lumbering public "state of the art" that conspicuously avoids the obvious highly-maneuverable developments, because for now the superpowers are interested in weaker foes, and there are still profitable programs like the F-35 to milk before admitting the obvious. It's one last push to convince the most lavish air forces of the world to make an unprecedented splurge in manned combat aircraft, before deadlier cats will be let out of the bag. That's why we only see big and slow UAVs in public, so far. BBC recently offered a look at NASA's version of the Global Hawk, and it's a closer examination than the public is normally offered of the military variant:
sam 10 years ago
I think its about the 6th rollout actually. At least the Iranians have put a few new things out since 2007. How embarrassing. This slow winky piece of crap can probably be shot down with ak47's. Unfortunately the Palestinians only have rocks and slingshots. i love tosee them fly this wreck into Iranian airspace...what ya will last maybe between 5- 10 seconds??
Padesatka 10 years ago
Thanks for calling out this sloppy and sensationalist journalism, [b]blowback[/b]. It wasn't necessary in pointing out yet another Israeli marketing campaign in military technology (disguised as news) for the author to treat the readership as gullible ignorami. Unless readers publicly object to being underestimated, quality journalism will continue its present decline.
blowback 10 years ago
Don't the Israelis realize we got the message in 2007 when they first rolled out this UAV and again a few months ago when they rolled it out a second time. But a third rollout, give us a break! As for the claim that it is "nearly the size of a Boeing 737 jetliner", see for yourself Length: Eitan - 14.00 m (46 ft in) 737 Classic - 31–37 m (102–120 ft) Wingspan: Eitan - 26.00 m (85 ft in) 737 Classic - 28.88 m (94 ft 9 in) Gross weight: Eitan - 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) 737 Classic - Maximum take-off weight: 63,300–68,000 kg (139,500–150,000 lb) Not even close!

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