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AIR FORCE September 17, 2009
AIR FORCE will operate Heron
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),
in close collaboration with the Ca-
nadian Forces, to support Australian
troops in Afghanistan.
Defence Minister Senator John
Faulkner announced the leading edge
acquisition on September 7.
"This high resolution intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance capa-
bility will enhance the capability of
Australian forces in Afghanistan,"
Senator Faulkner said.
The Heron UAV is a one-tonne
aircraft capable of medium altitude,
long-endurance flights. Under Project
NANKEEN, the Defence Materiel
Organisation has signed a contract
with Canadian company MacDonald,
Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA)
to lease Heron UAV services, which
will provide high-resolution intelli-
gence, surveillance and reconnaissance
The ADF has signed a
Memorandum of Understanding with
the Canadian Forces, which already
operate Heron UAVs in Afghanistan.
In July, Air Force and Australian
Army personnel undertook Heron
training in Canada. These personnel
have now been absorbed within the
Canadian Heron UAV Detachment
at Kandahar Airfield conducting
combat operations in support of the
Quick facts and figures
International Security Assistance Force
This has meant the ADF has rap-
idly established its Heron capabil-
ity by drawing on the Canadians'
operational knowledge, experience
"The Australian Government
greatly appreciates the assistance of
the Canadian Defence Force in this
project," Senator Faulkner said.
When the systems acquired through
the NANKEEN contract are delivered
to Kandahar, Australia will establish
its full Heron detachment of Air Force
and Army personnel.
"Air power of the future will involve
a balance of manned and unmanned
platforms. In particular, a long endur-
ance UAV can enhance force protec-
tion by providing ground commanders
with real-time intelligence," Senator
"The experience that Air Force
gains in operating long-endurance
UAVs in Afghanistan will also help
shape the development of unmanned
Defence capabilities for Australia
through the next decade."
Heron can conduct operations in
excess of 24 hours, with a maximum
speed of more than 100 knots (180
km/h) and at altitudes of up to 10,000
metres. It can carry a combination of
sensors which communicate with the
ground control station in real time.
Air Force gets UAVs
MORE EYES IN THE SKIES: Above, Air Force F-111, Hornet, Orion and C-130 aircrew and Army ISTAR
personnel in Canada for training on the Heron UAV earlier this year. Below, the UAV in flight.
The Heron UAV has a wingspan of 16.6 metres,
a length of 8.5 metres and a maximum take-off
weight of more than one tonne.
The Heron navigates using a Global Positioning
System and also has a back-up capability to
enable operations in a GPS-denied environment.
Leading-edge technology to help
Aussie operations in Afghanistan
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