Israel downs malfunctioning drone

Jerusalem, May 12 (IANS) The Israel Air Force (IAF) brought down one of its surveillance drones into the sea after a technical malfunction prevented a safe landing, a military official said Sunday.

The Heron-class drone, also known as “Shoval”, was crash-landed into the waters off the coast of Netanya, Xinhua reported.

Operators of the dron discovered an engine malfunction. The unusual decision to down the drone was made in light of fears that it might crash into a populated area and harm civilians.

“The drone was flying on a routine security patrol over the sea when a malfunction forced crashing it. The IAF searched the crash site and has recovered the remains,” a military spokeswoman told Xinhua.

She said the IAF has grounded its fleet of Heron-class Shovals until the conclusion of an investigation.

The Shoval, regularly used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, is considered relatively rare. The drone has a wing span of 16 metres, reaches an altitude of 30,000 feet, carries a payload of 250 kg and can remain aloft for more than 30 hours.

Recently, a “Sky Rider” drone, operated by the Israeli Defense Force’s ground forces, crashed while flying near the Gaza Strip.

In January, the IAF’s flagship drone, nicknamed “Eitan”, crashed during a test flight. Local media speculated at the time that the aircraft crashed due to an irregularly heavy payload.

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