BERLIN - Germany's armed forces currently use an IAI Heron 1 unmanned aerial system, which is made by the Israeli firm and operated by Airbus Defense & Space. However, Germany's contract with the two companies is due to expire in 2015.



Airbus Defense & Space said on Wednesday it had struck a deal with Israel Aerospace Industries to supply an upgraded drone, the Heron TP, to Germany after 2015 to allow the country to keep its surveillance capabilities until the arrival of a European drone.



The German government has the choice of either a purchase option or a lease for the system.



European aerospace companies on Monday put forward proposals for a medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) drone program that would have to be agreed by governments in the region, before potential production for 2020.

Currently Europe relies on Israeli or US companies for its drone needs but ministers have said they want to see a European product brought onto the market.

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