18 Jan 2013 by Arie Egozi - FG
Tel Aviv - Israel Aerospace Industries is awaiting decisions in two unmanned air system competitions in France and Germany, with the outcomes to be announced from as soon as early this year.
The turboprop-engined Heron TP is currently on offer to both nations, with sources suggesting that Berlin could make a decision by the end of the first quarter. IAI is offering the medium-altitude, long-endurance type in association with Rheinmetall Airborne Systems, against the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator B.
Israeli sources suggest that France could make a choice in its UAS contest by mid-year, with the Heron TP and Predator B also in contention.
IAI has identified the future sale of missiles, UAS and special mission aircraft as being among its main growth engines in the coming years. Israeli defence analysts note that these areas are also receiving the largest share of the company's research and development budget.
Meanwhile, after a number of years in which there were doubts about IAI's ability to maintain its space activities due to receiving few contracts, there are signs of change.
The company has recently won deals to build the Amos-4 and Amos-6 communication satellites for Israel, and will also develop and manufacture an observation satellite for Italian company Telespazio for $182 million as part of an offest arrangement linked to the Israeli air force's selection of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced jet trainer. IAI will also supply the Italian air force with two Gulfstream G550-based conformal airborne early warning and control system aircraft under the relationship.
It is also believed that the backlog of IAI's space division includes new spy satellites in the Offeq series, as Israel will have to launch new examples.