The Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle Heron TP, also known as the IAI Eitan, has crashed during a test flight near the Tel Nof airbase, south of Tel Aviv.
Israeli radio reported that the Heron TP exploded after the crash. Nobody on the ground has been injured.
The Israeli Air Force says technical failure or human factor could have caused the incident.
The IAI Eitan was passed into service in February 2010.
The all-weather fully-automatic UAV was designed for strategic reconnaissance and carries a whole payload of sensors, optical and infrared cameras and is equipped for fire-control, also reportedly having assault capabilities. Thought to be the biggest UAV in the world, it is capable of reaching Iran.
With a wingspan of 26 meters, the IAI Eitan resembles a small airliner, though it weights only four tons. With a cruise speed of 300 kilometers per hour, it can stay in the air for up to 36 hours, and is able to cover a distance of 10,000 kilometers. Its payload is up to 1.8 tons.
Tel Nof airbase, or Air Force Base 8, is one of Israel’s three principal airbases. It was opened by the British as the UK’s main airbase on Palestinian territory, and used to be known as Ekron Airbase.