TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Russia is negotiating a second purchase of Israeli-made spy drones roughly twice the size of an initial $50 million sale announced in April, Israeli defence sources said on Monday.
They said the new deal with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) would be worth about $100 million and would feature improved surveillance equipment on the pilotless planes.
“The Russians are going for a triple upgrade of their fleet and its capabilities,” a defence source said.
IAI declined to comment.
Russia’s war with neighbouring Georgia in 2008 exposed an army with largely obsolete equipment and a lack of modern spy drones, defence analysts said.
While Georgia used Israeli drones during the five days of fighting, Russia had to rely mainly on its Tu-22 strategic bombers for battlefield intelligence.
The drone deals help improve Israeli ties with Russia, an important country in international efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear programme.
Russia has held up a planned sale of the S-300 air defence system to Iran. Analysts have said the S-300 could help the Iranians defend their atomic sites against possible military strikes by Israel or the United States.
Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Andrew Dobbie
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