In early 2014 Israel rolled out a new model of its Heron I (or “Shoval”) UAV. The new version is called the Super Heron and is a little heavier (1.45 tons) and uses a more powerful engine that burns diesel instead of aviation gas. The Heron I is similar to the American MQ-1 Predator. The main improvements for the Super Heron are mainly the result of the more powerful (200 HP versus 115 HP) engine. This increases cruising speed to 210 kilometers an hour, provides for a faster climb rate and greater maneuverability.
The Heron 1, because it was so similar to the Predator A has sold well to foreign customers who cannot obtain the MQ-1. In addition to being one of the primary UAVs for the Israeli armed forces others like India, Turkey, Russia, France, Brazil, El Salvador, the United States, Canada, and Australia have either bought, leased, or licensed manufactured the Heron.
The original Heron 1 weighs about the same (1.2 tons) as the Predator and has similar endurance (40 hours). Heron 1 has a slightly higher ceiling (10 kilometers/30,000 feet, versus 8 kilometers) than Predator and software which allows it to automatically take off, carry out a mission, and land automatically. Not all American large UAVs can do this. Heron 1 cost about $5 million each although the Israelis are willing to be more flexible on price. Heron 1 does have a larger wingspan (16.5 meters/51 feet) than the Predator (13.2 meters/41 feet) and a payload of about 137 kg (300 pounds). The Super Heron has a payload of 450 kg (990 pounds) and stay in the air for 45 hours.
Super Heron was designed to respond to requests from many users, especially export customers who like to use Heron for maritime patrol over long coasts (as in India) and need more payload, endurance and maneuverability to deal with the nasty weather sometimes encountered at sea. The larger payload also makes it easier to arm the Super Heron.