The French Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to open negotiations with Dassault Aviation for the delivery of a new medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Dassault Aviation, in cooperation with the Israeli IAI, has offered a modified version of the Heron TP airframe.

The French Air Force will replace its aging fleet of Harfang drones, which will be terminated in 2014.

The French MoD is likely to bridge the availability of drones with Dassault’s MALE UAV until the introduction of a new generation of drones in 2020.

The other options available to the government include General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper drones and supply of four updated versions of Harfang drones already in service from EADS, according to the Wall Street Journal.