The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the Israeli military is creating another new squadron of drones, capable of flying higher, longer, and with more payload capacity. Operating from Tel Nof Air Force Base this would be Israel’s third drone squadron,
The new drone squadron will be able to field drones that can stay in the air for two days, drones that can fly above most anti aircraft fire at 10,000 metres (14,000 metres in other references). JP reports that the squadron will be operating the Heron TP, the “Eitan” a very large drone with a wing span of 26 metres. The article does not say how many Eitans will be part of the squadron, or whether the squadron will operate other types of drones, or what the tasks of the squadron will be.
These drones are much larger than fighter jets, and are the size of passenger jet liners. Eitan has a 1200 hp turbo jet engine and can carry hundreds of kilograms of weight, including obviously, bombs.
The Eitan has a very long range, and is clearly intended to be used against Israel’s external enemies, especially Iran. The Eitan is capable of carrying weapons and will have the capacity to carry a formidable array of spy equipment.
But defensenews.com reports that the Eitan was used in operation Cast Lead, the attack on Gaza of 2008-2009. Defensenews.com suggests that the Eitan will be cheaper to purchase and operate than the Gulfstream 550 ‘manned’ aircraft previously used, expecially in the attack on Lebanon in 2006.
Defensenews.com suggests that the Eitan might even be used in the future for electronic warfare, jamming other signals.
Defense Update web site reports that the Eitan’s PT6A turboprop engine is made by Pratt and Whitney of Canada.