IAI HARPY gallery

The need to suppress air defenses and the difficulty of locating such systems led to the development of a missile (drone) that could loitering in a given area until it located the target, greatly reducing reaction time. In the late 1980s, the South African firm Kentron sold its design for a loitering drone designated the ARD-10 to Israel’s IAI company. Based on this design, IAI developed the IAI Harpy UAV, which began its flight tests in 1989 and entered service shortly thereafter. The IAI Harpy can be considered as the first operational “loitering ammunition” worldwide and its mission is to attack any emitting radar, either on land or at sea. They were initially called suicide UAVs since they are single-use weapons when destroyed during the attack on the target.
This suicide drone is a “fire and forget” type weapon capable of operating by day and night and in low visibility conditions that is fired from a multi-cell truck or a ship far from the combat zone. The Harpy is programmed before its launch so that it goes autonomously to a predefined loitering area. Once there, it remains flying autonomously until the target is detected, then headed against it to destroy it. The drone has an automatic mission abort system in case the emitting source stops emitting, returning the drone to perform loitering tasks without carrying out the attack. In addition, the drone has a self-destruct system if it does not find any target after spending the fuel.
Harpy drone has a weight of about 135 kg and is launched into the air with the help of some propellant rockets that are turned off when starting the flight. Once in the air, the drone is propelled by a 38 hp UEL AR731 Wankel rotary engine installed in the rear of the airframe. It carries a 16 or 32 kg high explosive (HE) warhead and has an endurance of 9 hours, with a maximum range of 200 km. The maximum speed is about 415 km/h and it flies at a maximum height of 5,000 meters. It is a fairly accurate weapon and has a circular error probability (CEP) of 1 meter with the 16 kg warhead.
This system has been exported to Azerbaijan, China, India, South Korea and Turkey (on the image). In 1994 China received more than a hundred Harpy for $55 million and in 1997 South Korea received 100 systems for $50 million and probably received another 100 more capable of attacking non-radiant targets. Regarding the drones sold to China, these created a controversy between Israel and the United States in 2004. The reason was that the United States asked Israel not to modernize Chinese systems for fear that they would be used against Taiwan in a possible confrontation. Finally, Israel caved to American pressure and in 2005 returned Harpy UAVs to China without modernization.

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