By Gili Cohen, Haaretz – 12 Aug 2012
The Eitan will be returning to service following a lengthy break, after one crashed in January; craft able to stay 36 hours in the air, and carry cargo of up to 1 ton.
The Israel Defense Forces is set to reactivate its long-range reconnaissance drone, amid ongoing speculations concerning the possibility of a nearing Israel strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Eitan will be returning to service following a lengthy break, enforced after a drone crashed near the town of Gedera in January.
According to an investigation of the incident the Eitan went down during a flight geared at testing one of the navigational components fitted on the craft’s wing; the wing broke during the test, crashing a few seconds later.
No damages were reported as a result of the crash, but the Eitan itself suffered damages estimated at several million dollars.
In recent weeks, the two teams that were appointed to probe the incident – one by the Israel Air Force and the other by the Israel Aerospace Industries – submitted their report, with IAF officials asking the IAI to conduct more tests before approving the craft’s return to service, which is estimated to take place in a few weeks.
A source with information of the probe said: “These drones have more than half a million hours in the air – in the air force and elsewhere. All of the precautions have been taken to ensure that these malfunctions won’t repeat in the future insertion of these crafts into the air force.”
The Eitan, which can take off and land automatically, is able to stay in the air for 36 straight hours and reach a maximum flight height of 45,000 feet. In addition, the craft can carry cargo weighing up to one ton.
All of these qualities make the Eitan especially suited for long-range and advanced reconnaissance and intelligence missions. Foreign reports have linked the Eitan with attacks against convoys of arms smugglers in the Sudan.