A deadline of mid-April has been set for industry proposals for the Israeli Defence Force's battalion level unmanned air vehicle requirement that would deliver over-the-hill intelligence capabilities.

The main competing products for the tender, released in December 2007, are Israel Aerospace Industries' EyeView 50 UAV, Elbit Systems' SkyLark, Rafael's SkyLite, and Aeronautics' Orbitter. All these UAVs have an endurance of 1.5h or up to 2h and use electric motors. During the selection process, candidate UAVs will be flown for about 100h by crews combining IDF land forces command personnel and the tested vehicle's manufacturer's engineers.

A source told Flight the first contract would be worth about $30 million with options that could increase it up to $100 million.

Another programme IAI and Elbit Systems have been working on has been suspended because of third-party supply problems. The Turkish government's programme to equip its army with Israel Aircraft Industries' medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) Heron UAV has run into problems after manufacturers in Turkey failed to supply the electro-optic payloads.

In 2005 IAI and Elbit Systems launched the joint programme to supply the Heron to the Turkish armed forces, with Elbit providing the ground stations. With automatic take-off and landing and integrated mission planning, the Heron can operate at a distance of more than 1,000km (540nm) and at altitudes above 25,000ft (7,600m) for more than 24h.

The Turkish defence ministry had demanded that the advanced payloads, valued at about $40 million, should be made locally but Turkish industry has failed to supply the payloads in time and the programme has been put on hold.

Source: FlightGlobal.com