IAI Heron flies in UK demo

Departments - Up and Soaring

Ascent AeroSystems Spirit joins DIU Blue UAS approved list; Red Cat Holdings markets multi-drone system.

July 1, 2022

IAI’s Maritime Heron UAS in flight over Wales.
Photo credit: Israel Aerospace Industries

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and capability development and special mission services provider 2Excel Aviation demonstrated IAI’s Maritime Heron medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial system (UAS) in beyond visual line of sight flights. Observers from the UK Ministry of Defence and the UK Civil Aviation Authority attended the demonstration in Aberporth, Wales.

The Heron UAS was ready to fly within 36 hours of arriving in West Wales and maintained full serviceability throughout the deployment. It achieved its planned scenarios, despite challenging weather conditions, in missions including search and rescue, border protection, fisheries patrol, safety at sea, small boat detection and surveillance, and other activities.

In-person attendees could make requests of the system, relayed live to the ground control station (GCS) during the presentation. Other scenarios demonstrated IAI’s Starlight artificial intelligence (AI) and data processing engine to produce actionable intelligence, insights, and maritime awareness.

Ascent AeroSystems Spirit joins DIU Blue UAS approved list

Ascent AeroSystems’ Spirit sUAS.
Photo credit: Ascent AeroSystems

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) added Ascent AeroSystems’ Spirit to the Blue UAS Cleared List of approved small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS). Any U.S. government customer can buy and operate a Spirit without further technical review or approval.

The DIU Blue UAS program was established to provide a comprehensive vetting process for selected UAS. By eliminating duplicate approval processes across various branches of the government and defense agencies, operators and manufacturers can quickly get systems into the field.

Ascent AeroSystems’ compact, all-weather, high performance UAS are designed and built in the U.S.

“We’ve been shipping Spirits since 2020,” says the company’s VP of Business Development Paul Fermo. “We’re pleased that government and municipal customers will now be able to get the systems they need with a few mouse clicks.”

Red Cat Holdings markets multi-drone system

Red Cat Holdings Inc., a hardware-enabled software provider to the drone industry, completed research, development, and production for a four-drone, multi-vehicle system for defense, government, and public safety markets. Developed with subsidiary Teal Drones and partner Autonodyne LLC, the multi-vehicle package’s 4-Ship and 4-Ship+ configurations allow a pilot to control up to four Teal Golden Eagle drones with four simultaneous video feeds.

The 4-Ship+ uses two extra Golden Eagle units and an additional linked controller to facilitate handoff of control to another pilot. The additional drones with fresh batteries prevent breaking up the four-drone flight pattern, allowing for continuous surveillance.


Reliable Robotics, a Mountain View, California-based manufacturer of autonomous aircraft systems, added Kevin Sagis as senior VP and chief engineer to drive development and certify the company’s remotely operated aircraft system. Sagis has more than 30 years of design, development, manufacturing, test, and operational experience for the commercial sector, Virgin Orbit, NASA, and the Department of Defense.