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IAI waits on German approval for Heron TP deal

Israeli sources expect Berlin's planned introduction of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP unmanned air system to be advanced following German Chancellor Angela Merkel's re-election.

Final approval for the deal is required from the German parliament and this is likely to be sought swiftly, following the formation of a new coalition government.

Plans to clear the deal prior to the election were blocked by Merkel's then-coalition partner the Social Democratic Party, following suggestions by the German defence ministry that its leased unmanned air vehicles could be armed with precision-guided weapons.

Parliamentary backing represents the final hurdle in the way of the German air force acquiring the Heron TP, with a legal challenge by MQ-9 Reaper producer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems having been rejected in July.

Once fielded, the Heron TP will provide the German air force with a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned surveillance capability until a European product under study in conjunction with France and Italy becomes available.

Separately, IAI is also hoping to gain selection in India with a version of its Heron 1. The company recently submitted an offer to supply the type equipped with a variety of sensors, suitable for use during air force, army and navy operations.

The response to a request for information also includes a proposed co-operation with Indian companies Dynamatic Technologies and Elcom Systems, under a pact spanning local production, assembly and support.