Airbus has signed an operator agreement with the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) for Heron TP unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
Slated to be effective upon publication of the German budget, the agreement has been signed after receiving parliamentary approval on 13 June.
The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Heron TP UAS has been designed to replace the Heron 1 unmanned aircraft, which are currently deployed by the German Armed Forces in Afghanistan and Mali.
The Heron TP drone is fully operational with the Israeli Air Force.
Airbus UAS head Jana Rosenmann said: “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 modular concept will allow us to provide the Bundeswehr with the capabilities it needs on time for the years to come.”
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After completing a two-year set-up phase, the project will undergo an additional seven-year operational phase to bridge the gap until a sovereign European drone is developed.
Under the deal, the German Armed Forces will receive five Heron UAS developed to carry out reconnaissance missions.
The drones will be capable of carrying weapons, four sets of ground segments, training environments and all system operational services.
UAS are fitted with electro-optic and infrared sensors, as well as imaging radar systems that help conduct far-reaching reconnaissance missions.
Heron TP drones are also equipped with a weather radar system that enables the system to operate in adverse weather conditions.
IAI executive vice-president and Military Aircraft Group general manager Shaul Shahar said: “The Heron TP is a first-rate strategic RPAS.
“Its strong performance will provide Germany with unprecedented air superiority.”