If someone wants to build a good winery, he will probably involve French experts. If someone wants to start making pasta, he for sure will go to Italy for some advice.
Whatever way you look at it, Europe is still searching for a new force in unmanned air systems (UAS) – and all roads lead to Israel.
It started with the British Watchkeeper programme – based on the Elbit Systems Hermes-450. Then there was Harfang – supplied to the French after close co-operation between then-EADS and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) – and last week another step was made in this direction.
Airbus Defence & Space and IAI have signed a co-operation agreement to continue providing UAS to the German defence forces.
The agreement includes the supply of UAS under the MALE UAS bridging solution of the German ministry of defence. The current contract between the Bundeswehr and Airbus for IAI’s Heron 1 UAS expires in 2015, and Germany is looking for a bridging solution with upgraded features, which will enable it to maintain its surveillance capabilities until the arrival of a European-developed UAS in 2020.
Airbus Defence & Space and IAI’s proposal is based on the MALE UAS Heron TP – a successor of the Heron 1 currently used by the Bundeswehr. Based on the successful lease-operate-maintain partnership with the German forces, Airbus Defence & Space already operates the Heron 1 UAS in Afghanistan, where it has clocked up over 18,500 flight hours so far.
Airbus and IAI are currently offering two options for the bridging solution: a purchase option, and the leasing concept.
The involvement of Israeli UAS manufacturers in the European efforts is not surprising. Israel operates some of the most advanced UAS in the world, but more importantly they fly them all day every day – and I’m not talking about training missions.