June 14, 2018 / 6:51 AM / 8 months ago

Israel Aerospace signs $600 million drone deal with Airbus for Germany

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Airbus is pictured at the Airbus A380 final assembly line at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) [ISRAI.UL] said on Thursday it signed a $600 million deal with Airbus (AIR.PA) to lease Heron TP drones to Germany’s Defense Ministry.

IAI’s Heron TP is a high altitude, long endurance drone with multiple-payload capabilities. Airbus will manage all aspects of the nine-year agreement, including operational support and maintenance, state-owned IAI said in a statement.

Germany’s parliamentary budget committee this week backed plans by the military to lease the Israeli-built surveillance drones, according to committee sources.

The deal had run into resistance last year within Germany’s coalition government because the drones could be armed in the future. The German military currently uses a different model of Heron drones that cannot be armed.

The leasing program is intended as a temporary solution until a European drone is ready for use around 2025.

Shaul Shahar, general manager of IAI’s military aircraft group, said the Heron TP “will provide Germany with unprecedented air superiority”.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch

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