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Russia inks deal with Israel to buy spy drones


An I-view MK150 tactical UAV which Russia will get from Israel. IAI photo

MOSCOW (PTI): Russia has inked a $50 million deal with an Israeli firm to buy a range of spy drones, although under US pressure, it has been denied sale of some sensitive models, according to a media report here.

“A contract signed with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) envisions the purchase of the Bird-Eye 400 mini-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), I-view MK 150 tactical UAV, and Searcher MK II medium-range UAV,” the Kommersant daily said on Wednesday.

However, citing “corporate etiquette”, IAI declined to comment on the deal, the report said.

Quoting sources, the paper said the Russian Defence Ministry has already paid half of the contractual amount to cover the creation of technical facilities and training of personnel for the operation of UAVs.

“This indicates that the Russian purchases of drones from Israel will not be limited to this particular deal. The Russian Army needs about 50 to100 UAVs and 10 control complexes,” the newspaper said.

After last August’s five day war with Georgia, which had widely used Israeli drones made by Elbit Systems, the Russian military had felt the lack of reliable intelligence for effective use of smart weapons although a range of indigenously developed UAVs were used by it.

Meanwhile, under the US pressure, Russia has been denied the sale of Heron and similar class of UAVs made by IAI, the daily said.

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