Aug 10, 2015
Spain to buy four MALE UAVs
The UAVs, which are to be capable of flying observation missions for more than 24 hours, are destined to be shared by the armed forces, rather than used exclusively by one service.
One option being considered by Spain is the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, with the US firm teaming with Spanish engineering company Sener for the requirement.
The second is the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP, on which the Israeli firm is partnering with Indra.
There are no plans to arm the aircraft, which are to be used purely for reconnaissance.
MoD sources said training needs mean the earliest the UAVs could be operational would be 2017.
The Reaper has an advantage in that is used by the United States as well as major European Union and NATO allies, including the UK, France, Italy, and the Netherlands - offering the possibilities of joint training and operations.
But the army already has experience with another IAI UAV: the Searcher Mk II.
The navy is currently using the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle on ships serving with the EU anti-piracy mission 'Operation Atalanta' off the coast of Somalia.
Whichever of the larger UAVs is finally chosen, it is likely to be only a stopgap measure.
The government has said it hopes to eventually join up with France, Germany, and Italy, which in May agreed to start investigating a joint medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV project they hope to have ready by the early 2020s.