IDF Intentionally Downs UAV Due to Malfunction

Amid fears of losing control of the craft, Army officials chose to crash-land the UAV in the Mediterranean Sea.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces intentionally downed one of its own Heron-class Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on Saturday night, into the sea near the beaches of Netanya, following an engine malfunction. Naval, as well as Israel Air Force units searched the area around the crash site, in an effort to recover the remains of the UAV.

IDF officials explained that the decision to down the Heron-class UAV, nicknamed "Shoval," over the sea was made in fear that control over the UAV would be lost, and it might crash into populated areas, possibly causing harm to civilians.

In January of last year, another Heron-class UAV, nicknamed the "Eitan," went down near Kibbutz Hafetz Haim by the town of Gedera, in southern Israel. The craft crashed during a test flight. The "Eitan" has been operated by the air force since February 2010, and is considered the forces' most advanced UAV, capable of remaining in the air for 36 hours, reaching a maximum height of 45,000 feet and carrying over a ton of cargo. According to various sources it can fly up to 20 hours, and can carry missiles.

It was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, according to the strategic needs of the IDF. It is similar in size to the common fighter jet, and has increased the IDF's ability to carry out lengthy air missions at great distances, over far away nations, such as Iran.

In October 2011, a civilian UAV crashed near Megiddo in northern Israel. Its operators lost control of it they attempted to land it, and it crashed onto a nearby road. The UAV, model Hermes 250, produced by Elbit systems, crashed during a training flight.

The Eitan, Israel's largest UAV. The air force does not forgo its services in any operation.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi