To replace the Searcher-class unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that had been in service since 1994, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) acquired the Heron 1 UAV, which features state-of-the-art avionics, detection capabilities and communications systems. DSTA managed the acquisition and integration of the UAV, delivering it to the RSAF at the inauguration ceremony in May 2012.

The Heron 1 UAV has been in operation in other air forces for some years. However, the project managed by DSTA broke new ground in the development of the Ground Control Station (GCS) software and the datalink system. All test activities were completed within 10 months and the first two systems were delivered in March 2012 to meet operational needs.

In the area of manpower deployment, the UAV pilot and payload operator were previously segregated roles which required separate training. To achieve greater flexibility in employing the limited manpower resource, the team proposed to integrate the two roles through a unified flight and payload training programme.

Since the Heron 1 UAV’s inauguration, the RSAF has inducted the system and completed numerous flight hours successfully. The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability for the RSAF has been enhanced significantly.