Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is to provide Heron medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Germany.

The 1,200kg Heron can reach an altitude of 30,000ft and can loiter for over 30 hours.

Under the contract, the German forces will lease the UAV system for a year, with an option on a two year-extension.

The UAV will provide the air force with comprehensive situational awareness in northern Afghanistan with wide area real-time reconnaissance and surveillance data for German International Security Assistance Force troops.

Rheinmetall Defence will supply in-theatre logistical and maintenance services for the UAV.

Flight operations will begin in mid-March 2010.