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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Russia may be buying Israeli drones for a long time to come

Last month, it was reported that Israel had agreed to sell a number of its drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to the Russian government. Due to the relatively small size of the order, there was speculation at the time that Russia merely wanted a sample of the drones, so that they could reverse engineer them and manufacture the drones themselves. The Motley Fool pours cold water on that speculation:
Not long after Sudan, Russia tapped Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to sell it $50 million worth of UAVs. Reportedly, Russia ordered a smorgasbord of three designs: the Bird-Eye 400, the I-View MK150, and the Search MK II. The relatively small size of the sale, and wide variety of systems being purchased, suggests that this is less an effort by Russia to outsource its UAV capability, and more a confirmation of my guess last year that the Russians want to reverse-engineer Israel's drones to build UAVs of their own.

Good luck. According to RIA-Novosti, Russia aims to develop a fleet of at least 100 UAVs with flight ranges of up to 240 miles, and airborne endurance of 12 hours or more. None of the IAI drones being purchased so far match such specs, however. This suggests Russia could still be years away from developing a decent homegrown UAV.
Heh. Who told them to make all their engineers want to emigrate to Israel?

By the way, the drone that's pictured is an Elbit Hermes 450 and not one of the drones mentioned in the article.


At 9:48 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Russia could make its own UAVs. But its just cheaper buying them from a friendly country with people with a lot of Russian ties. Perhaps they will eventually do that but Russia-Israel ties, particularly of a commercial and military nature are expected to grow during the Obama years.

At 11:16 PM, Blogger Naftali2 said...

Does Russia want the drones to work? If not, they'll make them themselves. If they want them to work, they've got to buy them. And isn't this a complete reversal, bizzarro. Remember when the Arab world was allied with Russia and the US was allied with Israel? Now the situation is reversing. I can't make sense out of any of this, but it's got that ironic ring to it that marks so much of Jewish history.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Cory said...

This also seems interesting because I recall (though I can't point to any sources) that Israel had been supplying, or at least training the Georgian military. Could this be the best ever business plan? Sell the Russians drones and teach their enemies to shoot them down!

I'm kidding of course, but if I remember correctly, is this a conflict of interests, or is Israel merely an equal opportunity military equipment vendor?


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