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Russia mulls unprecedented Israel drones purchase

"Israel is the most experienced maker and operator of the drones, even the United States buys from it," Pukhov said.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Dec 16, 2008
Russia is holding talks with Israel over buying Israeli unmanned reconnaissance drones, a top general said on Tuesday, in what would be Moscow's first purchase of military hardware from the Jewish state.

The Russian interest in purchasing the drones comes after its military was taken by surprise by Georgia's use of Israeli-supplied drones in its war against Russia in August.

"We're talking about the purchase of a test batch of Israeli reconnaissance drones," the Interfax news agency quoted the head of Russia's general staff, General Nikolai Makarov, as saying.

"If our industry is unable to produce in the near future the drones we need, then possibly we will purchase one batch, first of all for testing, from Israel," he said.

Russian defence expert Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre of Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, confirmed that Russia had never bought military hardware from Israel before.

"Nothing has been bought on behalf of our interests from Israel before," he told AFP.

"This is a rather bold decision. Both the Americans and our own industry" will not be happy about the possible deal, he said.

"Israel is the most experienced maker and operator of the drones, even the United States buys from it," Pukhov said.

The Kommersant daily said the head of the armed forces General Vladimir Popovkin was in Israel in late-November for talks on the purchase with Israel's defence ministry and defence contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The paper quoted a Russian arms industry official as saying: "a contract for producing drones is almost certain to be given to Israel Aerospace Industries."

It also quoted an Israeli defence ministry official as saying a decision had been taken "at the highest level but the further fate of the contract is still being discussed."

Kommersant cited Israeli press reports that the value of the proposed contract would be 10-12 million dollars (7.3-8.7 million euros) but said the true sum was likely to be much higher.

Defence experts say Russia found itself lacking drones during August's military thrust into southern neighbour Georgia, while the Georgian side made wide use of such Israeli devices, including in an attack that seriously wounded Russia's commander in the Caucasus, General Anatoly Khrulev.

"The Russian army found itself working practically blind," Kommersant said.

The paper noted Russia had refrained from outspoken criticism of Israeli arms supplies to Georgia, despite scathing criticism of Ukraine for the same reason.

It said this silence was connected to the drone purchase, which was likely to be opposed by Washington.

Weapons trading between Israel and Russia is a touchy subject due to Russian arms ties to Israel's foes in the Middle East, Syria and Iran.

A report in the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta in September said that a drone shot down by Georgia that month, which Moscow denied ownership of, may have come from a Russian domestic defence supplier and been undergoing testing by the military.

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Raven UAS Certified By Italian Ministry Of Defense
Monrovia CA (SPX) Dec 16, 2008
AeroVironment has announced that the General Directorate for Aircraft Weapon Systems (MoD - Italy) has issued a Military Aircraft Type-Classification Certificate for the Raven B unmanned aircraft system, the first such certificate issued in Italy in the Micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle category.

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