The plans of the German Ministry of Defense to lease Heron TP-UAVs from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Airbus have been put on hold by the Higher Regional Court Duesseldorf as General Atomics, the opponent, argued that there were inaccuracies in the tender process. The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) was supposed to advance their capabilities beyond reconnaissance by adding the Heron TP with the capability to carry missiles.

Heron TP UAV (Photo credit: Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90)

June 21, 2017 - The plans of the of German Ministry of Defense to agree on al leasing deal of the Heron TP with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Airbushave been blocked by the Higher Regional Court Duesseldorf due to an appeal by General Atomics. The actual plans of the Ministry to fix the leasing contracts before the end of the legislative session and election in September have therefore been thwarted by the ruling. 

General Atomics which participated in the tender process for a new UAV for the German Armed Forces with the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper argued in front of court that they could have supplied the German Air Force with a better drone solution for a lower price. However, the court ruled that the German Ministry of Defense may decide for the Heron TP in a first ruling. In another second appeal General Atomics now argued that their arguments about the inaccuracies during the tender process considered adequately. Until the judges have decided about the case no contractual agreements are allowed to be made between the Ministry, IAI and Airbus. The hearings and the new verdict are expected for next Friday, which will put the Ministry under pressure to get the lease agreement approval by the German Bundestag (congress) in the last session before election on 28. June 2017.

The Heron TP is a bigger version of the Heron 1 developed by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and is powered by a 1200 hpPratt & Whitney Canada PT6Turbopropengine, compared to a Rotax piston engine in case of the Heron 1. Additionally, the Heron TP can carry missiles with a maximum payload of 1000 kg due to an increased size and improved performance in all weather conditions.The Heron is considered as a MALE-UAV (medium altitude and long endurance) with a flight time of more than 24 hours and more than 30 hours as TP-version.

The German Air Force operates the Heron 1-UAVs since 2010 and it has been deployed in Afghanistan and Mali. The aim of the Luftwaffe is to use two drones to provide 72 hours of surveillance by overlapping operations. Besides Germany and Israel other nations like France, Turkey and India are major users of the Heron.

Written by Juan Black

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