UAV Harop in a launch container. Folded wing and launch tray visible
The Israeli corporation IAI actively supplies unmanned aerial vehicles of various types abroad, incl. loitering ammunition Harop. This technique enjoys a certain popularity among foreign customers, and recently it became known about two new orders for a basic and a modified modification. The observed commercial success of Harop is clear and is based on several factors.
The IAI Harop loitering ammunition was developed in the first half of the 2000s and by 2005-2006. entered the international market. It was created as a universal reconnaissance and strike weapon capable of detecting and hitting enemy targets. A similar concept has been previously implemented in several Israeli projects and has been tested in practice.
The Harop product is built according to the “duck” design; the outer contours are determined taking into account the reduction in radar signature. The device has a rudimentary fuselage, most of which is made integral with the wing. On the nose of the fuselage there is a small sweep plumage. The main planes include a well-developed swept overflow and trapezoidal consoles that fold out at the start. The engine nacelle is fixed on top of the fuselage; on either side of it are keels.
The UAV is equipped with an optical-electronic unit for reconnaissance and guidance, and also has a two-way communication and control system. The launch of the device from the launcher is carried out using two solid-propellant engines. A piston engine with a two-bladed propeller is used for flight.
The length of the ammunition is 2.5 m, the wingspan is 3 m. The take-off weight is 135 kg. The maximum speed is declared at 417 km / h, the flight range is 1000 km. The flight duration is 9 hours. During the flight, Harop can dive to the target and destroy it or return for reuse. Destruction of the target is provided by a 23-kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead. The declared accuracy is no more than 1-2 m.
The Harop UAV is transported and launched using a launcher on a vehicle chassis with several rectangular containers. A similar installation is proposed for mounting on surface platforms. The flight and the search for targets can be carried out autonomously, under the supervision of the operator, or directly by commands. Moreover, in all cases, the decision to attack is made by a person.
To date, the IAI Harop loitering ammunition has entered service with 6-8 countries from different regions. The initial customer of such equipment was the Israeli army. Export deliveries soon began, in 2005 Turkey ordered an unknown number of complexes. At the end of the 2000s, a large order from India appeared – more than 100 units. In 2019, the Indian army decided to acquire more than 50 more UAVs. There are also reports of the delivery of Harop systems to Germany.
Azerbaijan became a major customer of various types of Israeli drones, and Harop products were massively purchased along with other products. It was the Azerbaijani army that was the first to use such ammunition in a real operation. The first strike with the use of Harop was carried out in 2016. In the fall of 2020, such UAVs were actively used during the battles in Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, there is fragmentary information about the use of such systems by Israel in Syria.
Just a few days ago, IAI Corporation announced two new contracts, and it is again about expanding the geography of supplies. Two unnamed Asian countries at once wanted to buy Harop products. One of them will receive land-based complexes with self-propelled launchers, and the second has ordered a system in sea version. It is noteworthy that this is the first order for a shipborne version of the launcher.
The main advantages of the IAI Harop ammunition should be sought at the level of the basic concept. The idea of loitering ammunition proposes the creation of a “kamikaze besplotnik” capable of observing and hitting the found target “at the cost of his own life.” Practice has repeatedly shown the potential and prospects of such a technique. A successful and promising concept has been implemented using modern technology and components.
Start from ship installation
Loitering ammunition can become a full-fledged replacement for reconnaissance UAVs with similar flight characteristics. In this case, the data from Harop can be used to clarify the situation or to issue target designation to fire weapons. The device can be integrated into modern troop control loops with maximum results.
Unlike reconnaissance drones, loitering ammunition is capable of not only identifying a target, but also independently hitting it. This dramatically reduces the time required to destroy a given object – in contrast to traditional approaches using specialized systems and complexes.
The Harop project provides for the possibility of autonomous flight and study of the terrain or work on the commands of the operator. Autonomous mode reduces the burden on the person, but does not exclude his participation. Thus, the management provides an optimal balance, taking into account the specifics of the work of calculations and current views on the use of unmanned vehicles.
The IAI Harop has a fairly high flight performance. High speed provides quick access to the target area, where long-term patrolling for many hours is possible. The manufacturer declared the minimum radar signature, which reduces the likelihood of interception during loitering.
Harop carries a high-explosive fragmentation warhead weighing 23 kg. In terms of mass and power, it corresponds to 155-mm NATO standard projectiles. Also, in these parameters, it can be compared with some air-to-ground missiles. At the same time, loitering ammunition has obvious advantages over both projectiles and missiles. In particular, it is possible to terminate an attack or retarget while in flight.
Several years ago, a ship-based version of the Harop complex was announced, and now the first contract for its supply has been signed. Thanks to this, the UAV becomes universal not only in terms of tasks, but also in terms of basing methods. Obviously, from the transfer to a boat or ship, the combat qualities of the Harop product do not change. At the same time, some new ways of application are possible, associated with naval specifics.
At the moment, the IAI Harop product is one of the most popular and commercially successful loitering ammunition in the world. In addition, it has confirmed its capabilities in real conflicts, which is additional advertising and contributes to the emergence of new contracts.
Several years ago, IAI Corporation announced its intention to create a new modification of the Harop drone. It was proposed to reduce the size and weight of the device, as well as to reduce the flight duration to several hours. Other options for improving the original design are also possible, primarily by replacing components and assemblies with modern counterparts in order to improve performance and / or reduce cost. At the same time, Harop is not the only development of its class from IAI. Customers are offered other loitering ammunition.
It is noteworthy that the lucrative contracts of the Israeli corporation IAI and the results of the combat work of the armies draw attention not only to a specific model, but to the entire direction. In other countries, new complexes of this class are already being created with different characteristics and capabilities. In the future, they will enter the international market and, possibly, change the situation there. However, right now the leader of the direction is the Harop UAV, built of modern components on the basis of a successful concept.