PARIS, July 22 (UPI) -- The French government is entering negotiations with Dassault Aviation for delivery of a new Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV to the French military.
The acquisition, which could take place in 2014, will replace the unmanned aerial vehicle system currently operated by French forces, pending the service introduction in 2020 of a new generation of unmanned aircraft. That UAV is being developed within the framework of the Anglo-French cooperation agreement of November 2010.
Dassault Aviation, in cooperation with the Israeli company IAI, is offering a modified version of the Heron TP airframe for the project.
The development of the F-Heron TP will involve, in addition to Dassault Aviation, several French companies through value-added activities, which will generate jobs and incoming transfers of knowledge.
The announcement of negotiation was made by Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Gerard Longuet this week during a meeting of the Ministerial Investment Committee.
Reports say the announcement came as a surprise since France's Defense Ministry had previously said that an interim MALE UAV wasn't needed.