DUSSELDORF, Germany, July 17 (UPI) -- Germany's military has extended a contract with Rheinmetall Airborne Systems GmbH for unmanned airborne reconnaissance services in Afghanistan.
The contract extension to the company, a joint venture of Cassidian and Rheinmetall, is for two years and carries a value of $92.1 million.
The period covered by the contract from the Federal Office for Defense Technology and Procurement will be from October of this year, the company said.
As well as continued flight operations by Rheinmetall Airborne Systems' Heron 1 aircraft, the contract provides for continued training of additional operational personnel of the German air force and the installation of new, more powerful sensor payloads.
The Heron 1 is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle developed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries. It has a maximum altitude of about 35,000 feet, a maximum speed of 135 miles per hour, an endurance of 52 hours and can carry a payload of more than 50 pounds.
The German air force is using two of the aircraft from its base at Mazar-e-Sharif base in Afghanistan. Under the contract extension, a total of three Heron 1 aircraft and two ground control stations that will be provided by Rheinmetall Airborne Systems.
"This system for imaging reconnaissance in the depths of the theater of operations (System zur abbildenden Aufklarung in der Tiefe des Einsatzgebietes, SAATEG) is used for real-time airborne monitoring and reconnaissance in the entire theatre of operations of the German ISAF forces," Rheinmetall said.
The Heron is the first UAS operated by the German air force. The system has flown more than 9,300 hours of reconnaissance missions in Germany's theater of operations in Afghanistan.
The German armed forces in 2009 opted for an operator solution rather than procurement of the Heron 1 to fill an existing capability gap in the short term.
Cassidian owns 51 percent of Rheinmetall Airborne Systems GmbH, with Rheinmetall owning the remaining shares. The company took over Rheinmetall's previous UAS business and became operational earlier this month.
In other German defense industry news, Atlas Elektronik has announced it will supply portable Diver Detection Sonars to the German navy. The Cerberus Mod2 DDS systems, developed by Atlas Elektronik's British subsidiary, will be installed on four F-125 frigates.
In addition to the four systems, a fifth will be provided the Navy by Atlas Elektronik for training purposes.
The Cerberus Mod2 sonar alerts vessel crew to the presence of divers, swimmers, autonomous underwater vehicles or swimmer delivery vehicles. It can be operated independently and remotely from a ship -- for example, it can be placed at several locations in a harbor.
The value of the contract wasn't disclosed. The first system, however, will be made this year, the company said.