According to a press release, the government in Prague is about to enter into negotiations with Israel for the purchase of a single MALE-class system, which is to include three, produced by state-owned company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI,) Heron unmanned aerial vehicles together with the necessary equipment such as ground control stations, communication terminals, information exchange systems, spare parts packages as well as ground support equipment. According to a statement from the Czech Ministry of Defence, the Herons are to be used for reconnaissance missions as well as information support for all military formations.
“As with other large acquisitions, we opted for the G2G path, i.e. direct negotiations between governments. This will allow us to set up long-term cooperation and ensure the operation, repairs and supplies of spare parts of the supplied military equipment throughout the lifetime,” said Minister of Defense of Czech Republic Jana Černochová, adding that the contract between the governments also creates conditions for gaining experience in the use of military equipment in the armed forces of the respective country, including verification of technical and military parameters, experience from training and combat deployment. This reduces the cost of operation and maintenance in the next period.
The selection of the Israeli bid was preceded by market consultations with manufacturers from several countries around the world. The Heron offered by the IAI concern was the one most suitable for the operational requirements of the Czech armed forces in terms of operational support outside the country.
“I believe that the contract will be concluded this year,” underlined Jana Černochová.
The Heron family was commissioned in 2005 and is currently operated by users in 20 countries. According to available information, Czechia is interested in purchasing the Heron 1 version of the system, which allows for operational flights of up to 45 hours. The basic onboard equipment includes various modules for patrol and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.