With maximum takeoff weight of 4650 kg, the 14 meter long aircraft can carry over 1,000 kg of sensors in its forward section, main payload bay, and the two bulges located at the end of each tail boom, offering optimal separation for specific systems.
For comparison a B52 can carry about 70,000 pounds (33,000 kg) worth of bombs and a B1 bomber about 40,000 pounds. So it would take 35 Heron 2 UAVs to equal the bombload of a B52.
The UAVs are far cheaper and more expendable than fighter-bomber planes. If a hundred (or few hundred) UAVs were targeted at a site with a substantial anti-air craft defence some could break through and destroy the defences and clear the way for manned fighter bombers. The UAVs can also be used to increase the number of bombing runs that are possible against known targets and to loiter over areas to attack targets of opportunity.
The Heron TP drones have a wingspan of 86 feet (26 meters), making them the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets and the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel’s military. Israel’s air force on Sunday introduced a fleet of the huge pilotless planes and each is capable of carrying two thousand pound bombs on each mission.
Israel and the United States have repeatedly asked Russia to scrap a contract to sell Iran the truck-mounted S-300, which can shoot down hostile missiles or aircraft up to 150 km (90 miles) away.