France to purchase Israeli military vehicles

French Defense Ministry announced decision to purchase IAI’s Heron TP long-endurance UAV that entered the IAF service in 2010.

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July 25, 2011 02:50
1 minute read.
TURKISH OFFICERS arrived yesterday to learn how to

Heron uav 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

 
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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 French military.

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.

This will 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 deal.

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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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