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Heron drone returning to Australia as training tool

Australia is bringing one of its Heron drones home to help keep operators' skills sharp for the arrival of the new Triton models."

Australia is bringing one of its Heron surveillance aircraft home from the Middle East to help Australian pilots keep their skills sharp until the arrival of the new Triton models, Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston said.

The Heron is a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle. Its main selling points, according to the manufacturer's website, are that it is reliable with a high level of redundancy, possesses four sensors, can communicate by satellite and is capable of automatic take-off and landing. 

"The Heron is a proven capability - providing 'eyes in the sky' for our troops in the Middle East," Senator Johnston said. "The retention the Heron following their withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year will ensure Australia remains at the forefront of this advancing technology. This is prudent planning for possible future defence scenarios."

One Heron already operates from Woomera as a training aircraft, and Senator Johnston says the second will provide "greater opportunities for training, and the development of robust tactics, techniques and procedures for operating complex UAS platforms".

The Triton is a much larger aircraft with a wingspan of almost 40 metres compared to the Heron's 16.6 metres. It also has a greater top speed and higher flight ceiling (upwards of 15 kilometres), but will have a lower endurance, having to land more often.

The Triton is a maritime variation of the Global Hawk, America's biggest unmanned aircraft. The Triton has reinforced wings compared to the Global Hawk, along with de-icing technology and lightning protection systems. These features allow it to safely pass through cloud-layers for closer surveillance of ships when needed. 

Interconnect Systems has a comprehensive background in aerospace and defence engineering, being an industry leader for more than 20 years. It provides electrical interconnect products and solutions, including cable and wire harness manufacture.

For more information on the best backshells and cable harness solutions, contact Interconnect Systems today on 1800 812 214.

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