Germany's parliament on 13 June approved a €1 billion ($1.17 billion) deal to lease Heron TP unmanned air vehicles manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries.

The approval puts an end to a long-running saga that has seen protests from rival bidders and politicians opposed to the acquisition of the potentially-armed UAVs.

Airbus Defence & Space will receive €720 million from the deal and will lease seven UAVs from IAI. Five will be able to carry munitions, while the other two will be used for training purposes.

The Heron TP will allow the German army to carry out long endurance intelligence-gathering missions. The leased capability will eventually be replaced by the tri-national European MALE development in the mid-2020s.

A German court last year rejected a protest against the Heron TP selection by rival bidder General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.