Sunday, July 24, 2011

France to buy Israeli-made drones, ending 42-year weapons embargo

"The French Defense Ministry decided last week to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel, thereby bringing an end to a 42-year-old embargo on weapon purchases imposed by President Charles de Gaulle. The approved sale of Heron TP, or Eitan, will be the first time the drone is sold to a foreign country.

The Eitan is the largest and most sophisticated drone made in Israel. It is assembled by Israel Aerospace Industries, and went into operational service in the Israeli Air Force a year and a half ago. The Eitan has a wingspan of 26 meters – similar to that of a Boeing 737. It is capable of carrying out reconnaissance and intelligence missions in an altitude of up to 40,000 feet, and can remain airborne 36 hours. Eitan's large size allows it to carry a variety of equipment such as radars, sensors and camera, and, theoretically, missiles."

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