Posts Tagged IAI
The French military has been using Israeli `Harfang` drones in its operations in Libya.
The Harfang is based on Israeli Aircraft Industry`s Heron drones, and is produced by EADS and BAE. It is said to be an `interim` drone programme, and is used in Afghanistan by French forces. The French have recently announced the purchase of the Heron TP (The `Eitan`), a much larger version of the Heron on which Harfang is based. The Eitan will be introduced about 2014.
The Harfang drones were flown from Sicily to Libya and have 25 operators. Control of the drones is based in Sicily. It isnt clear how many drones are involved, but there is no evidence that any have been produced beyond the original four or so created a few years ago.
Israel has had a burgeoning arms industry. The three biggest Israeli arms companies IAI, Elbit Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, had orders backlogs in 2010 of $16 billion. 100,000 Israelis work in an industry that sold $7.2 billion in arms in 2010.
The World Tribune online, reports that Midroog, the Israeli credit rating industry says that international trends present challenges for the Israeli arms industry. 70% of Israelis arm production is exported.
Moog worries that with the end of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that orders for Israeli arms will be dropped. And that the US is encouraging US arms companies to develop new markets, in competition with Israeli companies.
(This blog post will be expanded……)
Far from losing business after Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza recently, the Israeli arms exporters have enjoyed a mini-boom, as a number of countries have lined up to buy battle tested hardware from the Israelis, who have been supplying leading edge drone technology to war zones around the world.
After Georgia attacked Russia recently, aided by Israeli Hermes drones, the Russians were persuaded to arm themselves with Israeli drones.
This points to the high motivation that arms companies have to encourage their host countries and their customers to skirmish and be involved in campaigns, since without active campaign experience, new technology lacks credibility that can only be gained in warfare. Arms companies have a high motivation to encourage armed conflict, and to present armed conflict as a good solution to international problems.
Among the countries participating in Israel’s mini sales boom is Finland. Following is an article that describes the Finnish quest to acquire more drones:
“Finland’s Ministry of Defense has narrowed the field in its competition to provide the Finnish army with mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Of the five remaining bidders, four are Israeli firms with deep ties to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights. In addition, three of the models offered are or have been in active recent use in Israeli military operations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and south Lebanon. The Finnish army already employs a UAV produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, as well as other “battle-tested” Israeli weapons including anti-armor missiles, artillery munitions, avionics and more…..” (more)
Defence Industry Daily describes the situation in the French drone programme here.
Essentially, the French have a number of programmes possible but do not to have a clear picture of future needs.
Harfang, the EADS/IAI clone of the Heron TP drone has been built and deployed in Afghanistan, in a programme plagued with problems and delays.
France could also take on UK Watchkeeper drones, from the rival Israeli drones manufacturer Elbit Systems, and its French partner. The Watchkeeper is due for deployment in 2011.
Or the French could buy US MK-9 Reaper drones, which have higher capacity and are much easier to arm and more flexible with armaments.
Defence Industry Daily claims that the French will buy 65-70 medium drones with the decision to be made in 2011.
They could also chose the BAE Mantis produced by their British ally. Or the Talarion, a European collaboration between France, Spain, and Germany which seem increasingly unlikely to be selected. Talarion is a jet powered drone at an early stage of development.
DI Daily also suggest that SAGEM (French arms company) is developing additional drones and there is one under development by Dassault/Thales.
The Harfang drone is a French version of Israeli Aerospace Industry’s Heron drone, with the plane and its computer being built by EADS and IAI. The engine is built by the Austrian company BRP Rotax. It is a MALE drone (medium altitude, long endurance).
Only four drones seem to have been made, and there have been lots of production problems, especially building a navigation system compatible with the satellites available.
The Harfang has limited speed and manueverability, but was deployed in 2008 with French forces in Afghanistan, specifically at Bagram Air Base. One crashed there in March 2009 due to weather and software error.
There have been lots of problem with the Harfang, even after initial manufacturing problems were solved. In 2009, not long after the deployment to Afghanistan, 2 of the 3 Harfangs were grounded, causing the French to consider an emergency purchase of American Reaper drones. In October 2009 the French Defence Minister Herve Morin complained about slow Israeli response with respect to spare parts.