Thursday, July 28, 2011

France To Buy Israeli UAVs

     The Jerusalem Post reports that France is going to buy the IAI Heron to fill it's UAV needs, and thereby ending a 44 year old arms embargo.
     Back in the late 1950s France helped Israel start it's nuclear weapons program by helping them build the Dimona reactor in the Negev desert, during that period, France also sold Israel a large number of Mirage fighters, and bombers. However, on the eve of the Six-Day War in mid-1967, then french president Charles de Gaulle declared an arms embargo against Israel, which temporarily stopped the delivery of several missile boats under construction, and an order for 50 Mirage 5 fighters (later the missile boats were smuggled out, and Israel purchased the design for the Mirage 5 and built them in Israel under the name Nesher).  Since then France has not purchased or sold any weapons from Israel, but a few months ago gave 100 HOT anti-tank missiles to Lebanon.
     Moving on, France apparently picked the Heron over the MQ-9 Reaper, which is a improved version of the infamous MQ-1 Predator. The IAI Heron TP is supposed to replace the older EADS Harfang which is a variant of the original IAI Heron. The Heron has a mission endurance of 36 hours, an unknown range, and a mission payload of 1,000kg (2,205lbs). The Heron is rumored to be able to reach Iran, but that is unconfirmed.
     With the French arms embargo finally lifted, it will be interesting to see if Israel begins to purchase weapons from the French again. 

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

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