A German armed forces Heron unmanned aerial system (UAS) crashed east of Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, in the early morning hours of November 16.
The crash of the Israeli-developed UAS was likely caused by a technical error, the German armed forces said in a statement, adding that an investigation was underway. The crash resulted in no injuries to personnel on the ground.
According to Augen geradeaus!, the incident was technically not a crash but an emergency landing as the pilot maintained control of the aircraft throughout the landing. However, the site further reported that soldiers on the ground recovered parts of the aircraft and destroyed material that could not be recovered, pointing to the possibility that the UAS would likely be written off.
This is not the first time Germany has lost an UAS over Afghanistan. One of the more prominent ones was in 2013, when the Taliban reportedly hacked the UAS and brought it down in Badakshan. Germany lost further two Herons in 2010.
The Heron UAS is built by Israel Aerospace Industries and operated and maintained for the German armed forces by Airbus. The country has been using the Heron 1 in Afghanistan since 2010 and in Mali since 2016.
Germany plans to eventually switch from Heron 1 to more capable Heron TP models after first operators started training on the new models in January 2019.