Airbus Defence and Space has received a contract from the German Defence Procurement Agency (BAAInBw) to provide Heron 1 surveillance drones for use in military missions in Mali.

German soldiers are being deployed to Mali as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission (UN MINUSMA).

The deployment will begin in November this year and continue through to February 2018.

Bundeswehr has taken over responsibility for the intelligence unit in Mali from the Netherlands on 1 July this year.

Airbus unmanned aerial systems sales head Thomas Reinartz said: "A major success factor for this new assignment is our experience gained in more than 2,300 missions over Afghanistan.

"There we have proven our reliability to the full satisfaction of our customer, with a fleet availability higher than 95%."

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The Heron 1 unmanned aerial system (UAS) will be leased from Israel Aerospace Industries and operated by Airbus.

"There we have proven our reliability to the full satisfaction of our customer, with a fleet availability higher than 95%."

This medium altitude long endurance UAS carries out tasks such as detecting booby traps from the air, accompanying convoys and patrols, assisting forces in combat situations, reconnaissance and surveilling routes, establishing movement profiles, long-term monitoring, supporting situational assessments, and protecting property and military camps.

The Heron 1 can also be used to support humanitarian missions and to safeguard the national security of countries.

The extension of the Heron 1 operational model is paving the way for the next-generation drone, Heron TP, which has been selected by the German Bundeswehr Chief of Staff to succeed the Heron 1.

Image: The Heron 1. Photo: © Airbus DS GmbH.