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.