40th anniversary of IAF’s first unmanned aerial vehicle

Squadron 200 holds event to mark anniversary of introduction of Zahavan drone

Date: 03/10/2011, 12:41 PM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

On Sunday (October 2), veterans of Squadron 200, the IAF’s first unmanned aerial vehicle squadron, gathered for an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the squadron’s establishment.

The event was attended by IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nechushtan, as well as numerous other military officers and defense industry officials.

During the event, veterans recalled memories of the IAF’s first unmanned aerial vehicle, the Zahavan, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. The Zahavan became operational in 1981, excelled in the First Lebanon War, and was used for 23 years before it was taken out of service in 2004.

Another drone used by the IAF is the Searcher, which entered service in 1992. The Searcher 2 was introduced in 1998. Improvements included better engine performance, a sophisticated navigation system and advanced communications systems. Many foreign militaries use the Searcher.

In 2005, the advanced Heron drone, also known as the Shoval, entered IAF service. The Heron can conduct extended missions at high altitudes. It has a 16-meter wingspan and can carry a payload of 250 kilograms. That payload can include items such as electro-optical sensors, synthetic aperture radar, as well as other advanced intelligence and communications equipment.

In 2010, the IAF introduced the Eitan, a newer version of the Heron. The Eitan has a 26-meter wingspan, almost equal to the wingspan of a Boeing 737. The Eitan is capable of conducting long-range missions and can remain airborne continuously for 24 hours.

The Eitan can fly at 40,000 feet and carry a payload of 1,000 kilograms. It has a takeoff weight of five tons. It was designed to carry flexible payloads, depending on the requirements of particular mission.