Indonesia plans to go ahead with purchasing four Israeli-made unmanned air vehicles, despite protests about buying the aircraft from a country it does not recognise diplomatically.

The $6 million deal with Kital Philippines, a Philippines-based trading company, for the Searcher 2 UAVs includes a command post, controlling equipment and infrared cameras, says an industry source. The UAVs were chosen from 42 bids.

Delivery is expected by early 2007 and the UAVs will be used for surveillance of the Indonesian archipelago and Malacca Straits.

"This is the world's most sophisticated UAV and has been tested for years while doing the job along Israel's borders with Arab countries," the Indonesian defence ministry says in local news reports.

But some Indonesian parliamentarians have called the purchase "unethical" because the country has no diplomatic ties with Israel. Islamic groups have also held protests against the plan in Jakarta.

The ministry defended its move by saying it was merely buying aircraft licensed by Israel and not dealing directly with the country.

Source: Flight International