Madrid to receive four Israeli-built aircraft by year-end to support army in Afghanistan

The Spanish army has selected Israel Aerospace Industries' Searcher II unmanned air vehicle to meet a requirement to conduct intelligence-gathering missions in Afghanistan from late this year. The service announced the type's selection last week following a successful bid from an EADS-led industry team also comprising IAI and Spanish firm Indra.

The Spanish government earlier this year announced its intention to spend up to €17 million ($23.1 million) to acquire one tactical UAV system for deployment to Afghanistan before year-end (Flight International, 6-12 February). Industry sources expect an initial $17 million contract to be signed soon to cover the supply by IAI of four Searcher II air vehicles, one ground control station and advanced day and night payloads.

Spain chose the EADS proposal over rival offers from Aeronautics Defense Systems/General Dynamics, Elbit Systems/Amper and Sagem/Ruag. The deal will be the first sale of the Israeli UAV to a NATO member, and the third export success following orders from India and Singapore. The Searcher II has an 8.5m (28ft) wingspan, a maximum take-off weight of 436kg (960lb) including a 120kg payload and an endurance of up to 20h.

Israeli UAV
The sale of four Searcher IIs is the first NATO success for the Israeli UAV

Source: Flight International