Airbus has announced it has locked in a deal to deliver UAV capabilities to German militant forces.
The European aeronautical company and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) have signed an operator agreement for Heron TP unmanned aerial systems. The partnership agreement follows parliamentary approval, which was granted on June 13 2018.
Under the terms of the basic contract, the Bundeswehr will receive five aircraft equipped for reconnaissance missions and capable of carrying weapons, four sets of ground segments, training environments and all system operational services. The basic contract also includes preparing the drones for their use in future countries of operation.
The contract includes both the provision of Heron TP UAS as well as all operational services required for the system. In accordance with German budget law, the contract will become effective upon publication of the federal budget.
Heron 1 drones, which are currently deployed by the German Armed Forces in Afghanistan and Mali, are to be replaced by the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron, which is already fully operational with the Israeli Air Force – despite the contract between the Bundeswehr and Airbus being based on this previously successful model.
The systems are equipped with electro-optic and infrared sensors and imaging radar systems to perform far-reaching reconnaissance tasks. Satellite communication systems and German data and voice encryption systems are also part of the configuration.
Industry will ensure system performance, flight hours and availability and enable soldiers to focus fully on their respective missions.
The project will have a two-year set-up phase, followed by an operational phase lasting a further seven years, thereby bridging the gap until a sovereign European drone will be developed.
“This project will provide the Bundeswehr with an even more efficient system that will better protect soldiers in a wide range of threat situations as well as the at-risk civilian population,” said Jana Rosenmann, head of unmanned aerial systems at Airbus.
“The modular concept will allow us to provide the Bundeswehr with the capabilities it needs on time for the years to come.”
Shaul Shahar, IAI EVP and general manager of the Military Aircraft Group, added: “We are thrilled and proud of this agreement with the Federal Ministry of Defence, a major strategic customer.
“Heron TP is a first rate strategic RPAS. Its strong performance will provide Germany with unprecedented air superiority. We would like to thank the German government for this vote of confidence built over many years. We are committed to preserving the quality of our service and systems and look forward to continued collaboration.”