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07 Mar 07. Israel Air Force Inaugurates New UAV. The Israel Air Force took receipt March 7 of the Shoval unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the service’s first large, multiple-payload platform capable of flying more than 40 hours at altitudes of 30,000 feet. Developed and produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Shoval fleet has been integrated with a variety of sensors — including an all-weather synthetic aperture radar — for reconnaissance, communications intelligence and electronic intelligence missions. The IAF also will operate Shovals on behalf of the Israel Navy for maritime coastal patrol missions, defense sources here said. Known on the international market as Heron-1, the Shoval — formerly known here as the Mahatz, or Crusher — has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,200 kilograms, a mission radius of hundreds of kilometers and a wingspan measuring 16.6 meters. It has been designated as a “strategic” UAV for long-endurance missions, and was “successfully operated” by IAF and IAI collaborative teams during Israel’s Summer 2006 Lebanon War, the company announced in a March 7 statement. “The Heron UAV … represents a substantial leap in the IAF’s operational capabilities due to the UAV’s unique characteristics as the largest and heaviest of the IAF’s UAV fleet capable of carrying the largest payload and payload mix,” IAI said in the statement. The Shovals were provided to the IAF under an estimated $50 million Ministry of Defense contract awarded in September 2005. (Source: Defense News)

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