(Corrects headline, first, third and fourth paragraphs to show
Airbus has not yet won a contract with the German armed forces,
but is instead teaming up with Israel Aerospace Industries to
seek a deal to supply Germany with drones from Israel)
BERLIN May 21 Airbus (AIR.PA) signed a deal on
Wednesday with Israel Aerospace Industries to team up
on a bid for a bridging contract to supply the German armed
forces with military drones until 2020.
The armed forces currently use an IAI Heron 1 unmanned
aerial system, which is made by the Israeli firm and operated by
Airbus Defence & Space. However, Germany's contract with the two
companies is due to expire in 2015.
Airbus Defence & Space said on Wednesday it had struck a
deal with Israel Aerospace Industries to make an offer to supply
Germany with an upgraded drone, the Heron TP, after 2015 to
allow the country to keep its surveillance capabilities until
the arrival of a European drone.
The German government would have the choice of either a
purchase option or a lease for the system, Airbus said.
European aerospace companies on Monday put forward proposals
for a medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) drone programme that
would have to be agreed by governments in the region, before
potential production for 2020.
Currently Europe relies on Israeli or U.S. companies for its
drone needs, but ministers have said they want to see a European
product brought onto the market.
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Pravin Char)