Following the new security agreement between Israel and the US, which is estimated to cause considerable damage to Israel’s security industry, US defense contractor General Atomics is now looking to foil a substantial defense deal between Israel and Germany. Specifically, it is trying to block the Israeli Air Force from leasing the Heron TP unmanned air vehicle to Germany, worth around €560 million.
Reuters reported that the German Defense Ministry has informed German legislatures that the deal with Israel was being put on hold, since the General Atomics—which also manufactures UAVs—has begun legal proceedings against the ministry due to claims that it reached a deal to lease the Israeli UAVs over the US ones without opening it up for other companies to submit a tender.
General Atomics is a major player in the US defense arena that enjoys a great deal of support in Washington, which has also put pressure on Germany to prefer US-made products due to the two countries’ NATO ties.
While the Israeli Heron TP (also called Eitan in the Israeli Air Force) is considered one of the largest UAVs operating today and is able to remain in the air for up to 70 hours, the General Atomic’s Predator B UAV is substantially smaller and can only stay aerial for 14 hours. However, the Predator B is priced at half the price of the Heron TP.
It should be noted that General Atomic’s case was already dismissed by a lower German court in May, a fact that was stressed by the German Ministry of Defense. In a letter retained by Reuters, the ministry assumed that the appeal will be once again be dismissed, but expected it to postpone the closing of the deal between Germany and Israel by three to nine months.
General Atomic released a statement regarding their legal action, explaining that it was meant to ensure an open and fair competition on the matter.