Airbus and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) signed an operator agreement for HERON TP unmanned aerial systems (UAS) after parliamentary approval was granted on 13 June 2018.
This contract includes both the provision of HERON TP UAS as well as all operational services required for the system. In accordance with German budget law, the contract will become effective upon publication of the federal budget, the company said in a statement Thursday.
HERON 1 drones, which are currently deployed by the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) in Afghanistan and Mali, are to be replaced by the more powerful Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) made HERON, which is already fully operational with the Israeli Air Force, although the contract between the Bundeswehr and Airbus is based on this previously successful model.
The project will have a two-year set-up phase, followed by an operational phase lasting a further seven years, thereby bridging the gap until a sovereign European drone will be developed.
Under the terms of the basic contract, the Bundeswehr will receive five aircraft equipped for reconnaissance missions and capable of carrying weapons, four sets of ground segments, training environments and all system operational services. The basic contract also includes preparing the drones for their use in future countries of operation.
The systems are equipped with electro-optic and infrared sensors and imaging radar systems to perform far-reaching reconnaissance tasks. Satellite communication systems and German data and voice encryption systems are also part of the configuration. The UAVs are kitted out with a weather radar system so that they can operate in bad weather conditions.
As was the case with the previous model, the HERON 1, Airbus as prime contractor will closely collaborate with IAI. Complementing its role as prime contractor, Airbus is already a HERON TP design organisation approved by the Bundeswehr aviation authority and will also become the approved HERON TP manufacturing and maintenance organisation for the project.