Israel Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday that the Greek Army has leased naval variant of “Heron” surveillance drones for three years.
“As part of the deal, the Ministry of Defense for the Greek army will lease the 'Heron' system in a naval configuration for three years, with an option to purchase the system at the end of the period,” the Israeli MoD posted on its official Twitter account.
As part of the deal, the Greek Ministry of Defense will lease the 'Heron' system in a naval configuration for three years, with an option to purchase the system at the end of the period. The Heron system, equipped with day and night operations, maritime patrol and satellite communications radar, will perform tasks in various areas.
Local media reported in the recent past that Greece seeks to lease two Heron drones to bolster its intelligence gathering abilities during its current ‘cold’ conflict with Turkey. It chose the lease option opposed to a purchase to ensure quick deployment besides cost savings.
The MoD has not revealed how many of these drones were included in the contract and the value of the deal.
The Greek armed forces are said to be concerned at the use of Turkish drones in Evros and the Aegean such as Bayraktar and Anka.
Greek armed forces are also looking at buying foreign-made drones and a recent European demonstration of the General Atomics (GA) MQ-9 Sky Guardian drone in Larissa, Greece. However, the high cost of drone is said to be a deterrent.
In December 2019, GA and the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) conducted a series of demonstration flights of MQ-9 drones to showcase its surveillance and drone countermeasures capabilities to the European countries.
In recent weeks, Greece has accused Turkey of ‘shepherding’ thousands of illegal migrants to the Greek border. Greece has said it needs surveillance drones to spot migrant convoys early and detain them. In addition, the two countries are at each other over maritime jurisdiction and hydrocarbon drilling in the Aegean Sea.
Israel Aerospace Industries-built Maritime Heron UAS consists of a Land- or sea-based Unified Control System (UCS), a Ground data terminal (GDT), Mission-oriented payloads and SATCOM. A typical operational configuration consists of a maritime patrol radar (MPR) with multi-mode functions, an electro-optical sensor with day/night capabilities and an optional electronic intelligence (ELINT) package. The system is capable of utilizing customer furnished sensor suites.