Germany has agreed a nine year deal worth over half a billion dollars to lease Israeli military reconnaissance UAS capable of carrying missiles, the aircraft’s manufacturers said on 14 June.
European aerospace giant Airbus, which signed the $600 million agreement on behalf of the German defence ministry, will maintain and provide operational support for the Heron TP UAS, Israel Aerospace Industries said.
An official from the state-owned Israeli firm, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal covered five UAS.
The German military currently uses Israel’s Heron 1 (pictured) in Afghanistan and Mali, with the more advanced Heron TP UAS expected to replace earlier models.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on 14 June that the German parliament had approved the deal the previous day following the government’s green light.
Netanyahu said at a security conference in Jerusalem: ‘It’s a very large deal, and that of course helps our defence industries and I think it helps security in Europe. It’s a very, very good piece of news.’
IAI said the deal was pending German federal budgetary approval.
In 2016, then-German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the intention was to use the Israeli UAS until a similar European model was operational.
Germany had considered buying Predator UAS from the US, but ultimately opted for the Heron TP, which German officials have said could be made available more quickly and would provide a smoother transition between models.