Hidden Aspects of Crash of €40-million Israeli-built Heron Drone

While the Israeli regime promotes itself as the top regional military power and one of the best modern arms producers in the world, the falsehood of its claims becomes clear to the world day by day.

In this connection, after a show of inefficiency of the much-vaunted multi-billion Iron Dome air defense against the Palestinian rockets that have become a harrowing nightmare for the Israelis, now outside the occupied territories incidents to Israeli weapons have taken place that spread fear among the Israeli leaders.

In the latest incident, an Israeli-build Heron drone operated by the European border protection agency, Frontex, crashed into the sea 70 nautical miles southeast of Crate island of Greece on Thursday while on a surveillance mission. The incident raised a set of questions about the crash of the drone on the European media circles and at the same time set off the alarm bells about the Israeli confidence in the capabilities of its drones.

According to the European media, Heron, which was designed for maritime missions, was supplied to the Greece coast guard by the Frontex and was active since July in Tymbaki town of Crete where its base in located.

The giant drone, which is the world’s most advanced and most expensive UAV, was operated as part of the European joint operation Poseidon that was launched in May 2008.

The reasons for the crash are yet to be announced transparently, but according news website of Greece, Airbus company unexplainably lost satellite communication with the drone and this led to its crash in Karpathos Island in southeastern Aegean Sea.

A Twitter account specializing in maritime watch suggested that the USS Gerard Ford aircraft carrier crossed the region to Eastern Mediterranean over the past few days. Also, Russian warships, as well as Turkish naval vessels and drones, were present in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

With no information provided by the Frontex or the Greek coast guard so far about the crash, experts wonder if the UAV was targeted by jamming waves or was affected by electronic interference.

Given the presence of American and Russian warships near the area of Heron crash, it is likely that one of the parties tried to shoot it down driven by mistaking its activities for spying. It is noteworthy that the level of aerial confrontation between the US and Russia over the Black and Mediterranean Seas has increased in the past year due to the Ukraine war, and in some cases it has led to the downing of drones.

Heron, from claims to reality

Certainly, Heron is one of the world’s most expensive arms project, as it is somehow the most expensive Israeli-built drone.

It costs €40 million ($43 million) to build a Heron, almost half of the US-made state-of-the-art F-35 Lightening II fighter jet.

According to figures, after several US military and civilian drones, Heron of the Israeli regime is considered as one of the most expensive arms projects in the world, which is included in the world’s top ten list in terms of price, quality and capability.

Heron has a serial number of 572, with length of 8.47 meters, wing length of 16.60 meters, height of 2.303 meters, and weight of 1270 kilograms.

This UAV sports surface movement radar, advanced photoelectric sensors, Automatic Identification System (AIS) system and satellite communication system (Satcom). At the request of Frontex, Airbus signed a contract with Germany Armed Forces to develop a part of the satellite navigation system of the drone and undertake its flight responsibility.

Germany’s Hellas Posts news outlet said that if there is only one area where the Heron UAV stands out from its rivals, it is its advanced satellite communications systems coupled with impenetrable security protocols that make it nearly impossible for a ground pilot to lose control of the UAV. The money for this capability was paid, the outlet said, yet it crashed into the sea.

Stamatis Bitas news of Greece in a Twitter post reported that the drone had issued several alarms during its surveillance missions in the Aegean Sea.

The forthcoming days may see precise details about the reasons of the crash of this expensive drone published, or for security reasons, the Israeli and European officials may decide to keep it a secret.

Israeli revenues from drone sales

Having invested heavily on spying and combat drones to maintain its air superiority over the past decades, the Israeli regime made advances in this technology, and Tel Aviv has managed to make major profits from sales to European allies.

Though many countries have made advances in drone technology in recent years and have developed their power in this field, the Europeans have used the Israeli ones for political and security reasons.

According to European media, Turkish drones that have been extensively promoted recently and gained considerable reputation and were used in Ukraine war have similar technologies. Byraktar TB2, for instance, costs only €5 million to build compared to the Israeli drones that cost tens of million euros.

This means that buying the Bayraktars is more cost-effective for Europeans, and they can even buy new generation drones from the US, but instead they have preferred to buy such weapons from the Israelis. In fact, by buying weapons from the Israeli regime, the Europeans provide a lot of benefits to Tel Aviv so that Israeli occupation can receive financial aid from Europe without the latter coming under pressure of human rights organizations.

Though so far Tel Aviv has earned much from selling these drones to foreign customers, the crash of Heron without a specific reason raises concerns of the Israelis and their customers.

Reportedly, several countries have signed contracts with the Israeli military to receive these drones, but now they are concerned about similar incidents to their drones and may decide to give their purchases a second thought.

Tel Aviv seeks to provide Heron drones to the Arab countries as an incentive if the normalization proceeds. In January 2022, Morocco, the third country to normalize, said it will procure 3 Herons at a cost of over $48 million.

However, system weakness in Heron UAVs can dissuade normalizing Arab countries from arms purchases from the Israeli regime and push them to other suppliers like Turkey and even Iran.

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