Germany has signed a leasing agreement for the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that had been delayed by an industry protest.
The agreement was announced on 14 June following parliamentary approval for the deal the day before. The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology, and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) and prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space (DS) agreed the terms that will include provision of five Heron TP UAVs, as well as all services required for their operation.
Under the terms of the basic contract, the Bundeswehr will receive five aircraft equipped for reconnaissance missions while being capable of carrying weapons, four sets of ground segments, training environments, and all system operational services. The basic contract also includes preparing the unmanned aircraft for their use in future countries of operation.
The Bundeswehr selected the Heron TP to fulfil its interim MALE UAV requirements in 2015, but that decision was challenged by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), which had offered its MQ-9 Reaper instead. The reasons behind GA-ASI’s protest were not revealed, other than it followed an earlier complaint against the leasing arrangement that was lodged with the German cartel office in June 2016, which was rejected on 17 August of that year.
With GA-ASI’s protest dismissed and approval for the Heron TP granted, the capability will be stood-up over the next two years. The platforms will be flown by IAI under Airbus DS management through to about 2027, at which time the European MALE Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) is projected to enter into service.
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