Russia to buy spy drones from Israel
10:42 | 07
MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti)
- Russia's Defense Ministry has decided to buy three types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from Israel for $50 million, a respected Russian business paper said on Tuesday.
A contract signed with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) envisions the purchase of the Bird-Eye 400 mini-UAV (weight - 5kg, range - 10 km), I-view MK150 tactical UAV (160 kg, 100 km), and Searcher Mk II medium-range UAV (426 kg, 250 km).
Citing Russian military sources, the Kommersant daily said Moscow had already paid half of the contract sum to cover technical assistance and the training of personnel for the operation of UAVs.
The Russian military stressed the need to provide its Armed Forces with advanced means of battlefield reconnaissance in the wake of a brief military conflict with Georgia last August, when the effectiveness of Russian military operations was severely hampered by the lack of reliable intelligence.
The Russian Air Force has launched a number of UAV development programs for various purposes. Air Force Commander, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said last year that Russia would deploy advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with a flight range of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) and a flight duration capability of up to 12 hours by 2011.
However, Russian defense companies, including the MiG corporation, the Russian Helicopters and the Vega Radio Engineering Corp., have failed so far to provide the military with effective spy drones.
A source in the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said in January that the Defense Ministry was considering buying UAVs abroad, but the decision had been delayed by lobbyists from the Russian defense industry.
According to various estimates, the Russian military needs up to 100 UAVs and at least 10 guidance systems to ensure effective battlefield reconnaissance in case of any military conflict.