Harpy / Harop / Rotem

Loitering Munition (Suicide Drone)

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Harpy / Harop / Rotem

Loitering Munition (Suicide Drone)

General Information

The Harpy

The Harpy is a loitering munition, or “suicide drone” produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) . It is is an all-weather day/night “Fire and Forget” autonomous weapon, launched from a ground vehicle behind the battle zone. The Harpy is designed to attack radar systems and carries a high explosive warhead.[1]IAI Official Website : Harpy

In 2004, when Harpys sold to China in 1995 were to be upgraded in Israel in 2004, the USA demanded Israel seize them, after they were spotted in a Chinese military drill in 2002, though Israel claimed the Harpys had no US components, and therefor the US had no claim on them. Eventually Israel didn’t upgrade the drones, but did return them to China.[2]Israel Defense : China Unveils a Harpy-Type Loitering Munition [3]Islam Ayyadi & Mohammed Kamal (2016) CHINA-ISRAEL ARMS TRADE ANDCO-OPERATION: HISTORY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS, Asian Affairs, 47:2, 260-273,

The Harop

The Harop, first sold in 2005 to Turkey, is a later development of the Harpy. It can operate both fully autonomously, or be manually operated in its human-in-the-loop mode. If a target is not engaged, the drone can return and land itself back at base. Harop, with its folding wings, can be launched from a truck- or ship-mounted canister, or configured for air-launch.

In 2011 Israel and Germany developed a combined, unmanned reconnaissance and attack system integrating the Rheinmetall Defense KZO drone and IAI’s Harop.[4]Defense Update : Israeli, German UAVs Network to Form an Integrated Reconnaissance and Strike Asset

In both 2016 and 2020, the Harop was extensively used by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict against Armenia. The attack drone supposedly hit a bus full of soldiers, killing half a dozen of them in the process, and destroying the bus.[5]Medium : Azerbaijan Kills Armenian Troops With a Suicide Drone [6]The Drive : Meet Israels Suicide Drones

In April 2021 footage from a Harop attack on an Armenian military outpast was published. The short video documents the final moments before the Harop strikes its target, at the end of a terminal dive, at over 250 miles per hour.

The Rotem

Rotem is the first Vertical Take-Off & Landing (VTOL) Tactical Loitering Munition. Rotem carries day/night cameras and a warhead weighing up to one kilogram and is optimally designed to carry out combined intelligence gathering and attack missions. Rotem has been reportedly used in operations by several of the world’s militaries and was used as a force multiplier for tactical forces in a range of combat scenarios. [7]Defense Update : IAI Reports Three New Sales of Loitering Weapons; The Sales Reflect Growing Interest in LM Category Rotem uav was displayed at the Singapore Airshow in 2016, and according to IAI executives was purchased by several foreign armies.[8]Haaretz : IDF Interested in Buying Suicide Drones, Israel Aerospace Industries Exec Says

Variations:  Harpy, Harop, Mini-Harpy, Harpy NG (New Generation), Mini Harop (Green Dragon)

In 2021, Israel Aerospace Industries announced more than $100 million in contracts for loitering munitions in three deals that include the Rotem VTOL and the Harop drones. The latter was sold in its land and naval versions. The company did not reveal its customers.

Harpy Drone
Harpy LM, Photo: Israel Aerospace Industries

Use by Israeli Forces

While the Harop is in operational use by the Israeli Navy, we do not know of any use of it in combat by Israel to date.

In 2016 an IAI executive said that the Israeli Army is interested in purchasing Rotem drones, according to Haaretz.[9]Haaretz : IDF Interested in Buying Suicide Drones, Israel Aerospace Industries Exec Says According to MAKO, The Rotem UAV is in operational use of the Israeli Army.[10]Mako : Attacking drone in use of IDF acquired by foreign armies