Dassault Aviation in cooperation with Israeli Company IAI will provide drone for French Army 2207111
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Defense News - France
|Dassault Aviation in cooperation with Israeli Company IAI will provide new drone for French Army.|
During a meeting of the Ministerial Investment Committee, Gerard Longuet, Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs, decided to open talks with civil and military aviation company Dassault Aviation for it to design variants of an Israeli-made medium-altitude, long endurance unmanned drones for use by the French military, starting in 2014.
The Israeli Heron TP could be the next generation of Drone used by the French Army
The French Air Force needs to replace its ageing fleet of Harfang drones made by European Aeronautic Defence & Space that will be phased out in 2014, and the government has been considering how to do this for the past two years. The idea is to plug the gap in availability before a new generation of drones becomes available in 2020.
A Dassault spokesman couldn't provide any details of the number of drones that the government intends to buy, or the potential value of the contract.
An off-the-shelf procurement of the U.S.-made battle-proven drones would have been cheaper and was the solution favored by the French military, defense industry sources said. However, Defense Minister Gerard Longuet has chosen to favor Dassault and other French companies that will provide work on the project, including Dassault's defense-electronics peer, Thales.
The ministry said that drones to be supplied under the contract with Dassault as project leader will plug the gap until a new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles being developed under the terms of an Anglo-French defense cooperation agreement signed last November becomes available. Dassault is working with BAE Systems PLC of the U.K. on a follow-on program to develop Telemos, a medium-altitude, long-endurance drone, within the framework of the Anglo-French accord. Other European companies, including Italy's Finmeccanica, have expressed interest in joining this project.
The ministry sees Dassault and the French companies that will work with it on the stop-gap drone project serving as a core for the future industrial group that will develop the next generation of MALE drones.
Cassidian, the defense and security division of EADS, is self-financing the development of a competing project to develop its Talarion. However, the defense ministry's statement appears to suggest that the Anglo-French solution has the inside track.