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Israel Aerospace Industries continues to fortify its presence in Europe after it
beat out an American bid to sell strategic unmanned aerial vehicles to the
Last week, the French Defense Ministry announced its
decision to purchase IAI’s Heron TP long-endurance UAV that entered the Israel
Air Force service in 2010. The Heron TP will replace the smaller Heron 1, which
has been in French service for a number of years.
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IAI, together with
France’s Dassault, beat out a bid from America’s General Atomics Aeronautical
Systems which offered a version of the Predator B UAV, a vehicle that has been
used extensively in Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years.
be the first export deal of the Heron TP, Israel’s largest UAV. IAI, which
declined to comment on the deal, will manufacture the aircraft frame in Israel
and assembly will be completed by Dassault in France.
The deal is
estimated to reach close to $500 million over a number of years and could lead
to additional contracts for IAI as other countries, such as Germany, seek to
upgrade their UAV capabilities.
Selection of the Heron TP was announced
on Friday following a meeting by France’s Ministerial Committee for Investment.
The French Defense Ministry will now open negotiations with Dassault to finalize
The Heron TP is the largest UAV in the Israel Air Force
service. It has a 26 meter long wingspan - the size of a Boeing 737 - and can
stay airborne for up to 45 hours. It can carry 1,000 kg. in payloads, making it
capable of conducting a wide variety of missions. According to foreign reports,
it has the ability to also launch missiles and in Israel it is often referred to
as the UAV “that can reach Iran.”
France is expected to use the Heron TP
in military operations throughout the world such as in Afghanistan, where five
NATO member countries are already operating UAVs manufactured in Israel.
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