Israeli defense company Aeronautics announced a deal worth $8 million to sell their advanced Orbiter 3 drone to an unnamed country.
As part of the deal, Aeronautics will provide its new Orbiter 3 unmanned aerial vehicle as well as the maintenance and support services to country “B,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.
The tactical Orbiter 3 UAV is a compact, light-weight system for use by military and homeland security officials. It has an operating range of up to 150 km. and can stay aloft for up to seven hours, providing intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) on its missions.
It has both day and night vision channels and also carries a three-sensor electro-optical camera with significant tactical capabilities.
The fully autonomous system can be assembled within a few minutes, is launched using a catapult and lands with the help of a parachute and airbag. It has been adapted to both ground and marine environments and can carry payloads up to 5 kg. in weight, including multi-sensor stabilized EO payloads carrying laser target-designation systems. The company’s latest variant has a digital datalink for operators.
The system is operated by customers worldwide, the company said.
“This deal is a direct continuation of our customers’ confidence in Aeronautics products,” CEO Amos Matan said. “An agreement with a repeat customer is always a source of pride, and is proof of the strength and reliability of the advanced tools that Aeronautics develops and provides to 70 customers from countries around the world.”
Israel’s Defense Ministry reinstated the company’s export license in February after it was suspended in 2017. The suspension came following a report by The Jerusalem Post’s sister newspaper Maariv that a team belonging to the company arrived in Azerbaijan to finalize a contract for the sale of its Orbiter 1K UAV, when they were asked to strike an Armenian military position in violation of Israeli law.
According to Aeronautics, who denied any wrongdoing, the contract at the time with Azerbaijan totaled $20 million, and the freezing of the license meant that the company would be prevented from exporting the drones.
Two weeks after its export license was reinstated, Aeronautics announced that they won a multi-million dollar contract with Azerbaijan. According to a statement released by the company, the two-year contract is worth $13 million and will see maintenance work for the Orbiter 1K UAVs sold to the central Asian country.
The Orbiter 1K is a loitering suicide drone capable of carrying a special one to two kilogram special-explosive payload. Highly transportable, the vehicle-mounted UAV can fly for 2-3 hours carrying a multi-sensor camera with day and night capabilities.
According to foreign media reports, Israel is considered a leading exporter of drones. In April, the Defense Ministry’s military exports unit announced that such exports by Israel brought in $7.5 billion dollars last year, the first decline in three years which saw consecutive increases in defense exports.
While that figure for 2018 was $1.7 billion less than the previous year, it was still higher than the average for the past decade, the ministry said.
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