Russia buys Israeli UAVs

April 7, 2009 -- Moscow has achieved a $50 million deal with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to buy a range of surveillance drones, although under the U.S. pressure it was denied sale of some sensitive models, a media report said on Tuesday.

"A contract signed with Israel Aerospace Industries envisions the purchase of the Bird-Eye 400 mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), I-view MK 150 tactical UAV, and Searcher MK II medium-range UAV," the Kommersant daily said.

However, citing 'corporate etiquette' IAI declined to comment on the deal, it said.

Quoting sources, the paper said the Russian Defence Ministry has already paid half of the contractual amount to cover the creation technical facilities and the training of personnel for the operation of UAVs.

"This indicates that the Russian purchases of drones from Israel will not be limited to this particular deal. The Russian Army needs about 50-100 UAVs and 10 control complexes," Kommersant noted.

After five-day war with Georgia last August, which had widely used Israeli drones made by Elbit Systems, the Russian military had felt the lack of reliable intelligence for effective use of smart weapons although a range of indigenously developed UAVs were used by it.

According to the daily, under the US pressure Russia, however, has been denied sale of Heron and similar class of UAVs made by IAI. (Defpro)

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