At Singapore Airshow: “Israel is a World Power”

On the eastern side of Singapore’s main island, Changi Airport is considered one of the best in the world. Its many qualities are dwarfed by the magnificent views enjoyed by travelers. A tropical paradise is hosting the Airshow 2014.
Singapore Airshow 2014

Aerobatic flying displays didn’t distract the Israeli delegation which is represented by two main exhibitions of Israel Military Industry (IMI) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Changi Logo Troubled IMI is fighting for survival; its representatives want to find partners interested in its R&D capabilities. India used to be its largest customer, but following a corruption affair it was banned for a decade.

Since IMI had little chance to generate headlines Israeli Minister of Defense Ya’alon* rushed to the IAI exhibition, where Israel’s main exhibit was in display.

Super Heron

On the first day of the exhibition, February 11, IAI unveiled its new Super Heron in Singapore and at its facility near the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. Changi was chosen over sites in Europe and the USA because of the importance of Asian customers to the Israeli industry. Singapore is an investor in the Israeli antimissiles industry and bought several Herons. India and Turkey are also among the countries that purchased the early model of the drone.
Super Heron at Changi
Extinct Birds

Baptizing objects is a bad practice; it leads to many types of confusion. “Heron” and “Super-Heron” are a good example of that. The basic platform can be adapted to carry several types of weapons and systems according to the customers wishes. The version sold to Turkey includes heavy Turkish systems that forced the placement of a stronger engine. Thus, the name refers to a range of quite different products built for different tasks.

Yet, the basic data is impressive. With a wingspan of 17 meters, the contraption can takeoff with a total weight of 1450 kilograms. A third of that is fuel and cargo. With an engine almost twice stronger than its predecessor it can stay up to 48 hours in the air. It reaches 30,000 feet and a speed of 150 knots. Cameras on its wings provide better spying capabilities. Automatic takeoff and landing capabilities ease its operation.

Its initial cost is around $15 million, but it can reach $80 million; no much chance that a neighborhood mafia will use it to set accounts.

The first Heron entered service in 1994, roughly at the same time the USA introduced its Predator. Both systems are similar in capabilities, raising questions regarding the origin of the Israeli technology.


“Heron? Is a fancy name for a shitepoke!”
Raffles City, Singapore, image by Roi Tov

Related: Israel Military Industry Swan Song
Did you know? The Yes is dead, long live the No!


Operational History

Both Predator and Heron were operative during the American attack on Afghanistan. The Israeli drone was leased to Australia, and accumulated thousands of hours of operative flight. France operates an adapted Heron, under rather secretive conditions.
Super Heron Side View
Extinct Birds

Yet, Heron fame is due mainly to Operation Cast Lead. Despite having spy-satellites, Israel surveilled Gaza during the operation with a dozen drones flying over the Strip at all times.

This was part of a major change in the IDF’s organization. Until then, ground and air forces were separated. Combined operations were coordinated by the central command. In Cast Lead, brigades were assigned drone teams and Shin Beth secret police agents. This allowed the IDF unprecedented speed in the strike of moving targets.

Such a delay was the reason for the disastrous Siege of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem during the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield.

“Operative Flight” is a fancy synonym for “money” in this business. Israel arrived at Changi to monetize the accumulated operative flight hours.

World Power

Running after the cameras, Ya’alon rushed to the IAI exhibit and inaugurated it. Yet, not event the shiny new Super Heron could distract the astonished journalists. Ya’alon robbed the show.”According to the Israeli security industries stalls that I see here, Israel is a world power. The fact that Israel is displayed here, so far from home, in such an impressive way, proves that Israel is a power.
MoD Ya’alon at Changi
The Oslo Accords

“Israel is a power against its will because we have learned that lack of goods and threats are the best invigoration leading to the development of answers in a wide range of fields….

“The world is passing now through not few changes that irradiate directly on security issues, including security industries, but also economic, social and other changes. Confronting all these challenges we are in close cooperation between those in the frontline, those next to the laboratory table, and anything between them to give a significant security answer that its testified by our relative security stability.”

Jewish Israelis are famous for being insolent; yet even they were surprised by Ya’alon words. They stared at their Minister of Defense while trying to decide if he had said a sad joke or not. Should they laugh? Most of them opted for taking a camera out of the pocket and look busy taking pictures of the clown.

Real Power

Let’s redraw the image. The Israeli Minister of Defense was standing next to a contraption essentially copied from the USA. Much of its components were either copied or directly purchased. Israel had nothing new to show. Other exhibits advertised services or old products. Yet, the eminent minister chose this set up to announce that Israel had become a world power. Yes, definitely it was just a bad joke.

No less troubling was that he took pride in what essentially is an assassination tool and not a weapon to be used by righteous armies. A decent person would be ashamed to be seen even near such contraption.

Ya’alon, you will be a worthy world power the day you will take care of the poor and the destitute, the refugees, the hungry and thirsty. A new assassine drone doesn’t get you a place as a world power, but a special place in hell to be reached in an unmanned flight without stops.

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