By YAAKOV KATZ
Officials fear prolonged grounding could scuttle sales to France of Heron TP, dubbed the drone “that can reach Iran.”
The Heron TP, Israel’s most advanced unmanned aerial vehicle, remains grounded almost four months after one crashed during a test flight near the Tel Nof air base outside Rehovot.
Two panels set up independently by the Israel Air Force and Israel Aerospace Industries, the drone’s manufacturer, are still investigating the cause of the crash and there is concern that the continued grounding will affect a possible sale of the Heron TP to France.
At the time of the crash, officials said it occurred after the UAV performed a maneuver that was beyond its capabilities, causing one of its wings to break off. The aircraft was flying with a new navigation component that, as the IAF suspected at the time, might have disrupted the drone’s automatic flight systems.