May 31, 2018
Germany near to lease five Heron TP, To Be based in Israel, only for Intel missions
The plan is to lease five aircraft from manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries, managed by Airbus under a contract to be finalized in June. The fleet would be stationed in Israel and, lacking missiles, simply provide intelligence for German forces.
The deal with industry includes having the aircraft available for deployment into a conflict zone within two years of contract signing.
The Heron TP is something of a trial balloon for Germany in the field of armed drones. An envisioned joint European drone project — with Germany, France, Italy at the core — is widely expected to produce a strike-capable unmanned aircraft by roughly the middle of the next decade. Still, officials are making a distinction in the so-called “Eurodrone” program, arguing that the base configuration will include a reconnaissance capability only, to be augmented by weapons if national policy permits it.
General Atomics last year fought, but lost in court, the Berlin government’s decision to effectively sole-source the drone deal to Israel without giving the U.S. company a chance to bid.