EADS is offering an improved version of the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Hunter unmanned air vehicle (UAV) system to the French army as part of co-operation between the European and Israeli manufacturers. If the French army selects the improved Hunter, EADS will manufacture parts of the UAV system.

Two years ago the French army selected the high altitiude, long endurance Eagle 1 UAV system - a development of the IAI Heron medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV - but it has a requirement for a shorter-range platform. The French defence ministry purchased a single Hunter UAV for evaluation four years ago. EADS is now offering an enhanced version with an improved payload.

Meanwhile, the US army plans to purchase additional TRW/IAI Hunters and equip its existing systems with improved payloads. The US Army has seven Hunter systems, but cancelled further acquisitions in 1996 following operational difficulties with the system, since when Hunter has matured. The US Army has used Hunter in conflicts in the Balkans, and for training. The army is developing AAI's Shadow UAV, but the Hunter is the only division and corps-level system. Another possibility is to develop the Hunter's ground station also to control Shadows to avoid the need for two separate stations.

IAI sources confirm the army is discussing procuring additional Hunter systems. A competition with other UAVs is expected in 2003.

Source: Flight International