Germany’s Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has signed a contract with Airbus for the provision and operation of five IAI Heron TP unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
The contract leverages off an existing agreement between the two entities for the operation of Germany’s Heron I capability for which Airbus is responsible for system performance, flight hours and availability of the system.
“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,” the Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus, Jana Rosenmann said in a statement. “The modular concept will allow us to provide the Bundeswehr with the capabilities it needs on time for the years to come.”
The larger and more powerful Heron TP will replace the Heron I – which is currently in operational use in Mali and Afghanistan – in service. The nine-year agreement will have a two-year setup phase and a seven-year operational phase, after which a European medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAS capability is expected to be available.
Germany will be the first export customer for the Israeli-developed Heron TP. The system is considered to be an outside contender for Australia’s AIR 7003 armed MALE requirement, a decision on which had been expected in 2017 but is now expected to be made in the next few months.