A joint venture of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) and Rheinmetall Defence AG have signed a contract with the German Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement to provide IAI Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and ground stations to the Bundeswehr (German military) for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
IAI declined to state the value of the deal, but defense industry sources estimate the deal at $70-90 million, and believe that follow-on orders are likely. Rheinmetall said that under the current multimillion-euro contract, the Bundeswehr will lease the UAV system for one year with an option for a two year-extension.
Rheinmetall-IAI has been operating in Germany since the 1980s. Rheinmetall Defence will provide in-theater logistical and maintenance services for the Herons, while German troops will operate them in northern Afghanistan. Flight operations will begin by mid-March 2010.
The Heron can carry a wide variety of sensors and information systems for gathering data for intelligence analysis to protect the friendly forces during operations.
IAI president and CEO Itzhak Nissan said, "IAI beat Israeli and foreign competitors to win this tender. Our fruitful cooperation with Rheinmetall allows for the integration of the two companies' capabilities to the benefit of both of our customers, and presents new marketing opportunities of UAVs and other airborne systems."
The Canadian, Australian and French armies already use the Heron as one of their main ISR sources in Afghanistan.
IAI said that its Searcher UAV is used by Spanish troops in Afghanistan.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 28, 2009
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