Suicide UAVs like the Harop are designed to be able to adapt to relatively strong battlefield conditions
Currently, Harop is considered “the golden egg” of the Israel Aerospace Industries IAI because of its achievements on the Syrian battlefield. IAI is actively supplying drones of all kinds to foreign countries, including loitering ammunition Harop.
During the 2020 conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan claimed to have used the Harop suicide drone to destroy an Armenian S-300 air defense system. However, the Armenian side has denied this information.
The Harop loitering munition is built according to the “duck” design; the outer contours are determined taking into account the reduction in radar signature. The device has a rudimentary fuselage, most of which is made integral with the wing. On the nose of the fuselage there is a small sweep plumage. The main planes include a well-developed swept sag and trapezoidal consoles that fold out at the start. The engine nacelle is fixed on top of the fuselage; on either side of it are keels.
The suicide UAV of Israel is equipped with an optical-electronic unit for reconnaissance and guidance, and also has a two-way communication and control system. The launch of the device from the launcher is carried out using two solid propellant engines. For flight, a piston engine with a two-blade propeller is used.
Harop has a length of 2,5 m, the wingspan is 3 m. The take-off weight is 135 kg. The maximum speed is declared at 417 km/h, the flight range is 1000 km. The flight duration is 9 hours. During the flight, Harop can dive to the target and destroy it or return for reuse. Destruction of the target is provided by a 23-kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead. The declared accuracy is no more than 1-2 m.
To date, the IAI Harop loitering ammunition has been put into service in five countries: Azerbaijan, Germany, India, Turkey, and of course Israel.
The Azerbaijani army was the first to use such ammunition in a real operation. The first attack using the Harop was carried out in 2016. In the fall of 2020, Harops were actively used during the battles in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Chinese military is also very impressed with the tactical skills and real combat achievements of UAV Harop on the battlefields. China is also said to be looking to acquire and master this kind of dangerous offensive weapon technology.
What is happening at the hot spot in Nagorno-Karabakh shows that armed drones and loitering munitions are reshaping modern wars. These are affordable, unmanned military weapons, but have the potential to cause significant damage to enemy air defenses. Although a large number of UAVs could be shot down in the conflict, compared to the damage to the air defense systems they have inflicted, the use of these weapons is considered a successful tactic.