IAI embarks on drone-manufacturing venture with Russia

Russia to independently manufacture advanced Israeli drones, after Israel delivers 12 unmanned aerial vehicles in a $53 million deal.

[illustrative] Israel drone 311 IAF (photo credit: Courtesy: IAF [illustrative])
[illustrative] Israel drone 311 IAF
(photo credit: Courtesy: IAF [illustrative])
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has completed the delivery of a dozen unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to Russia, paving the way for the implementation of a joint venture under which Russia will independently manufacture advanced Israeli drones.
In a $53 million deal signed last year, Israel completed the delivery of 12 UAVs, including the Bird-Eye 400 and the I-View Mk 150, both used for close-range tactical missions, as well as the Searcher II UAV, used for long-range missions.
As part of the deal, IAI trained about 50 Russian pilots at its headquarters near Ben- Gurion Airport. Russia became interested in Israeli-made drones following its 2008 war with Georgia, which used Israeli drones at the time.
Defense officials confirmed that Israel has also decided to allow the Russians to independently manufacture the Heron 1, one of Israel’s most advanced reconnaissance drones. The Heron 1 is used for strategic missions and can carry a wide-range of sensors.
The production line in Russia is being established under a $400 million joint venture signed between IAI and Russian defense group OPK Oboronprom in October.
Israel was initially hesitant about the transfer of advanced Israeli technology to Russia out of concern that it could be passed on to countries such as Syria or even Iran.
Russia’s decision earlier this year not to supply Iran with the S300 advanced air defense system which it had ordered several years ago paved the way for the deal to go forward.