Spain to buy four MALE UAVs

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Spain to buy four MALE UAVs
David Ing, Madrid - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
06 August 2015

Spain is looking to buy four large reconnaissance UAVs. The IAI Heron TP is one of the two options it is considering. Source: IAI

The Spanish Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed on 7 August that it is looking to buy four large unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and has issued requests for information (RfIs) to two potential suppliers.

The UAVs, which are to be capable of flying observation missions for more than 24 hours, are destined to be shared by the armed forces, rather than used exclusively by one service.

The country has allocated an initial EUR25 million (USD27 million) installment for the project in its 2016 defence budget.


The country is also considering the MQ-9 Reaper UAV. Spain is not planning to arm whichever UAV is selected. (General Atomics)

One option being considered by Spain is the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, with the US firm teaming with Spanish engineering company Sener for the requirement.

The second is the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP, on which the Israeli firm is partnering with Indra.

There are no plans to arm the aircraft, which are to be used purely for reconnaissance.

While no dates have yet been set for the programme, MoD sources said training needs mean the earliest the UAVs could be operational would be 2017.

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The Reaper has an advantage in that is used by the United States as well as major European Union and NATO allies, including the UK, France, Italy, and the Netherlands - offering the possibilities of joint training and operations.

But the army already has experience with another IAI UAV: the Searcher Mk II.

Until now the individual services have made their own choices for smaller UAVs, with the army using both the Searcher and the RQ-11 Raven during its deployment in Afghanistan.

The navy is currently using the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle on ships serving with the EU anti-piracy mission 'Operation Atalanta' off the coast of Somalia.

Whichever of the larger UAVs is finally chosen, it is likely to be only a stopgap measure.

The government has said it hopes to eventually join up with France, Germany, and Italy, which in May agreed to start investigating a joint medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV project they hope to have ready by the early 2020s.
Spain to buy four MALE UAVs - IHS Jane's 360
 
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Considering the situation out in the Med at the moment, this is not a bad idea by any means, and I like the mention of joint-training operations.

Relations between the UK and Spain are hardly at an all time high, so joint training exercises might help to strengthen our ties
 

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