Technology transferred from Israel is helping Russia to design its first strike unmanned air system, with the design expected to be flown for the first time in 2014 carrying sensors and armament.
Russia approached Israel to assist in developing unmanned systems after its RSK MiG-29 fighters shot down Elbit Systems-made Hermes 450 air vehicles operated by the Georgian air force during the war between the countries in 2008.
Moscow first purchased two types of UAS made by Israel Aerospace Industries under a deal worth $50 million: the BirdEye 400 and the improved Searcher 2. It then finalised a deal for more-advanced systems, sources say, which also for the first time included the transfer of some supporting technologies.
Israeli sources say the deals signed so far have included only "basic technology used in small systems", but others claim the transfer has enabled Russian industry to make a "big leap" during the development of the new armed type.