Israel's Aeronautics Defense Systems is to supply unmanned air vehicle capacity to Dutch troops serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, with the Netherlands having had no available replacement for its current Sagem Sperwer systems, which will return from the country in March.
Following a market review, Aeronautics was identified as the only company able to provide both the hardware and support required within the limited timeframe available.
Dutch undersecretary of defence Jack de Vries told parliament that the deal involves Aeronautics' Aerostar tactical UAV (pictured below), and that the contract will run from March 2009 until August 2010, with an option to extend until December 2010. With Israeli personnel not authorised to operate inside Afghanistan, system operators are expected to be provided by subcontractors from the UK and the USA.
© Aeronautics Defense Systems
The estimated costs for the interim TUAV deal - which should be signed by the end of January - are between €25 million ($32.7 million) and €50 million.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force in early January deployed one of its Lockheed Martin C-130Hs to the United Arab Emirates, from where the transport will support Dutch personnel serving in Afghanistan. The service will maintain the deployment for the next two years.