German parliament authorizes half billion Euro drone deal with Israel
MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)
Germany has agreed to a nine-year deal worth over half-a-billion Euros to lease Israeli reconaissance drones capable of carrying missiles, lauded by Prime Minister Netanyahu as a “huge contribution” to Israel's security industry.
European aerospace giant Airbus, which signed the $600 million (500 million euro) agreement on behalf of the German defense ministry, will maintain and provide operational support for the Heron TP drones, Israel Aerospace Industries said.
The Israeli government will oversee training, infrastructure and logistics for the planes.
The deal, agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats, was viewed as a temporary solution until a European drone is operable estimated around the year 2025.
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.
An official from the state-owned Israeli firm, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal covered five drones.
On Wednesday the Budget Committee Bundestag backed the plans by the military to lease Israeli-built Heron-TP surveillance from Israel Aerospace Industries. The military currently uses Israel's Heron 1 drones in Afghanistan and Mali, solely for surveillance without arming capacity.
IAI said the deal was pending German federal budgetary approval.
Netanyahu praised the deal as a “huge contribution to the Israeli security industry and Israel’s economy.” He said it was “an expression of the strategic partnership between Germany and Israel and a testament to the potential of the Israeli industry to contribute to countries such as Germany.”
At the International Homeland Security Conference in Jerusalem on Thursday, Netanyahu said, "It's a very large deal, and that of course helps our defense industries and I think it helps security in Europe."
He went on to thank Merkel for the deal.
The Budget Committee Bundestag authorised leasing of Heron TP drones from Israel Aircraft Industries in one billion euro transaction. The Bundeswehr has used a previous Heron model in Afghanistan and Mali. Another important step in strengthening Israel German security relations. https://t.co/vqF7r0ujRS
— Jeremy Issacharoff (@JIssacharoff) June 13, 2018
Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, chief of staff of the German air force, said the deal would allow significantly better protection of German troops, Reuters reported.
(Staff with AFP.)
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