Australia to deploy Israeli-made UAVs in Afghanistan

Australian Defense Minister John Faulkner announced on Monday that the Royal Australian Air Force would begin deploying the Israel Aircraft Industry-made Heron unmanned aerial vehicle during missions in Afghanistan. The announcement follows an agreement between Australia and Canada, whose armed forces work closely together in Afghanistan. According to the deal, the RAAF will lease the UAV from the Canadians for an estimated US $81 million. The Heron UAV operates at an altitude of 30,000 feet, and can remain in the air for up to 40 hours. In August 2008, the IAI won a tender with the MDA company to begin supplying the Canadian military with the Heron. The Australian Defense Minister added that the Heron would provide its forces in Afghanistan with vital aerial support.