This capability is now used in the IAF “White Eagle” squadron operating the force’s largest UAS the Heron-TP (Eitan).
The capability has proved itself in operations that involved the simultaneous takeoffs of a number of the large UAS, and especially in bad weather conditions..
In 2012, the “White Eagle” squadron was grounded for a few months after a wing of one of the Israeli aerospace industries’ (IAI) Heron-TP broke during a flight. After the IAF and IAI both investigated the crash, changes have been introduced to some operational and maintenance procedures, and the Squadron was fully operational again in the recent Israeli defense forces (IDF) operations including the 50 days long “Protective Edge” fighting in Gaza last summer.
The automatic takeoff and landing capability is now being introduced in the IAF, IAI’s Heron-1 (Shoval) and Elbit Systems’ Hermes-900 (Cochav).
The operation of the large UAS without the external operator is giving the UAS squadrons the flexibility needed to perform the continuously growing number of missions.
The “White Eagle” squadron is about to get additional UAS and new systems that according to the IAF, will be “force multipliers” in the variety of missions this large UAS is performing in combat and in peace-time.