Ger­many agrees to lease Is­raeli-made drones: man­u­fac­turer

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - REGION -

OC­CU­PIED JERUSALEM: Ger­many has agreed a nine-year deal worth over half a bil­lion dol­lars to lease of fleet of Is­raeli mil­i­tary re­con­nais­sance drones ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing mis­siles, the air­craft’s man­u­fac­tur­ers said Thurs­day.

Euro­pean aero­space gi­ant Air­bus, which signed the $600 mil­lion agree­ment on be­half of the Ger­man de­fense min­istry, will main­tain and pro­vide op­er­a­tional sup­port for the Heron TP drones, Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries said.

An official from the state-owned Is­raeli firm, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said the deal cov­ered five drones. The Ger­man mil­i­tary cur­rently uses Is­rael’s Heron 1 in Afghanistan and Mali, with the more ad­vanced Heron TP drones ex­pected to re­place ear­lier mod­els.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said Thurs­day that the Ger­man Par­lia­ment had approved the deal the pre­vi­ous day fol­low­ing the govern­ment’s green light.

“It’s a very large deal,” Ne­tanyahu said, “and that of course helps our de­fense in­dus­tries and I think it helps se­cu­rity in Eu­rope.”

IAI said the deal was pend­ing Ger­man fed­eral bud­getary ap­proval.

In 2016, then-Ger­man de­fense min­is­ter Ur­sula von der Leyen said the in­ten­tion was to use the Is­raeli drones un­til a sim­i­lar Euro­pean model was op­er­a­tional.

Ger­many had con­sid­ered buy­ing Preda­tor drones from the United States, 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. –

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