IAI teams with Dassault in French Air Force UAV deal

In a deal worth an estimated €300-400 million, IAI will manufacture the F-Heron TP in Israel, and Dassault will assemble it.

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) has teamed with Dassault Aviation SA (Euronext: FR) to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the French military in 2014, replacing current systems. IAI and Dassault will offer a modified and evolved version of IAI's Heron TP - the F-Heron TP, customized to the French Air Force's requirements.

This is the first time that the Heron TP will be sold outside Israel. The IDF has been operating the Heron TP for the past 18 months.

Defense industry sources believe that the French Air Force will procure several score F-Heron TPs, including their command and control systems for a total of €300-400 million. Deliveries will be made over 4-6 years.

IAI will manufacture the F-Heron TP airframe in Israel, and Dassault will assemble them at its own facility, ahead of delivery.

France's Ministry of Defense chose the IAI-Dassault bid over the MQ-9 Reaper UAV made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., and updated versions of the Telarion UAV made by European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company NV (EADS) (Euronext, DAX: EAD), which is already in service. The selection process for the new UAV lasted a year.

IAI declined to comment on the deal today, saying that it has not yet been officially notified by France's Ministry of Defense.

The Heron TP is one of the world's most advanced UAVs. It has a wingspan of 27 meters (the same as a Boeing 737 airliner), an operating range of over 40 hours, a GPS system for very long-range operations, and avionics for all-weather and day and night operations. The Heron TP is the latest version of the Heron, which has been operational for many years by the IAF, and by the Luftwaffe, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force in operations in Afghanistan and other arenas.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 24, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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